A very general breakdown of the macronutrients is as follows....
PROTEIN: Every structure of the body is created from protein.
Sources: Red meat, Chicken, Fish, Dairy, Nuts and nut milks, Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), Tofu and Tempeh.
How much: try and include a protein source at each main meal, a serving is about a handful (of the child’s hand)/ ¼ of the plate.
CARBOHYDRATES: Our body’s top source of energy, both mental and physical.
Sources: Grains (rice, quinoa, pasta, breads etc), Legumes, starchy vegetables are high in carbohydrates e.g pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, potato and non starchy vegetables e.g salad veg and fruit also contain carbohydrates but to a lesser extent.
How much: Grains and starchy vegetables ¼ of the plate and non starchy vegetable/fruit ½ of the plate.
FAT: Children need good quality fat for mental development.
Sources: Oily fish, nuts and seeds, olive oil, coconut milk/oil/cream, avocado, nut spreads.
How much: in total about one handful a day of mixed varieties.
Right, now we know what to give our children but how do we get them to eat it?
Tips for fussy kids:
At meal times try and eat as a family, kids are like parrots and the more they are exposed to their peers eating different foods the more likely they are to try.
Avoid making a fuss about food (good or bad), NEVER use food as bribery or punishment. This confuses the matter for them.
When you have the time get your children to help in the kitchen, they are never to young to wash vegetables or tear lettuce leaves making their own food brings a sense of satisfaction and they are more likely to then want to eat it. Same applies for growing your own vegetable patch, having your children plant, water and harvest home grown vegetables or herbs is a positive way to get them to try the foods as well as understand them.
Have your little one have a say in meal choices for the week ahead, if it’s not an ideal food e.g Mc Donalds meet them half way and create healthy homemade burgers.
Make food playful- create a face out of fruit or salad or stand broccoli florets up in some hummus so it looks like trees in a forest.
Hide healthy options if you have to- pureeing/juicing food is an excellent way of sneaking it into things….you could puree spinach and make bright green muffins or puree vegetables and add it to egg as a veg free looking quiche.
Remember, science shows that it takes a child trying a new food up to six times before they can fully assess wether they like it or not. Try the food in numerous different forms for example- eggs: scrambled, omelet, poached. Or cauliflower: steamed, mashed, roasted.
Bringing it all together, what can they eat...
Food ideas for lunchboxes:
· Mini Quiches made in muffin tins
· Fruit kebabs
· Hummus or avocado dip with pita bread cut into triangles
· Hummus with vegetable sticks (carrot/cucumber) or crackers
· Home made popcorn
· Wraps, sandwiches with new ingredients e.g mashed roast pumpkin, boiled egg, cottage cheese, peanut butter and strawberries, turkey breast, hummus
· Mini pizza made on pita bread
· Fried rice with egg and vegetables (use left over rice from the previous night)
· Savoury muffins
· Fresh fruit salad
· Cheese slices with rice crackers
· Natural yoghurt with diced fruit
· Apple muffins
For food items that take longer to prepare set aside some time on a Sunday afternoon to create, quiches, muffins etc can be frozen and used as needed.