Why a Child's Healthy Eating Consultation?Most of us are aware of the context we live in today including the huge amount of unhealthy food available most places, the vast money manufacturers spend on advertising unhealthy food to kids, and that foods which are most processed are not necessarily the best for our children.
In addition there are many, other reasons to seek the help of a Child's Healthy Eating Specialist:
Many products we eat every day like breakfast cereals are marketed as 'low fat' etc but most of these are high in sugar. Similarly cereal bars that are marketed as 'breakfast on the go' can have sugar levels of up to 40%. Many of our kids are eating too much of these foods, without realising what they contain (eg long lists of unfamiliar ingredients).
Many kids gravitate to eating the easiest foods
because they are a quick source of energy. Yet these dont provide long lasting energy as most of the nutrients have been removed eg fibre. This results in frequent low sugar levels
(ie your child is running out of fuel
for both their body and mind
). This may result in your child being irritable, bad tempered, losing concentration, getting suddenly sleepy or easily crying etc.
Grazing is common for many children. This means a child eats small amounts of foods throughout the day, between structured snacks and meals. This may result in a child being overweight if they're eating too much high-calorie foods. Alternatively a child may become underweight if they're not eating sufficient nutrients like protein.
Some children have strong preferences for certain foods and only want to eat these foods. In addition if they are unwilling to try new foods
, and then stop eating some of these preferred foods, then their options are further reduced.
Many kids go through phases of not eating certain foods, like excluding whole food groups. This can result in your child not getting their required range of nutrients and may adversely affect their development during these crucial years. Our immune system, for example, is large and complex and needs a variety of different vitamins and minerals. In addition another concern is that this picking eating persists in the long-term, and for some (possibly a third of all picky eaters) this continues into their adult years. This is also called fussy eating, but I personally don’t like using these terms.
The longer a child is selective in their food eg not eating vegetables, the longer and more challenging it can be to turn this around as it can become the 'norm'. Therefore the earlier you can tackle this, the better. Unknown to many people, research shows that young kids don’t have stable food preferences.
Of course its natural for parents to feel anxious when they’re worried about whether their child is getting enough nutrients
etc. These concerns are often sensed by your child and it can have a negative impact on the child's eating. Research shows stress reduces digestive activity (think of being chased by a tiger and how hunger is the last thing you think of). The result is often a child can’t absorb all of the nutrients they need. Some of these essential nutrients
(including iron & zinc) are responsible for a healthy appetite so children low in these nutrients may have a diminished appetite.
Some people also like to simply improve or optimise the eating of their child(ren) in these crucial years to maximise their development.
How I work includes:
- Recommending healthier products and brands (and where to get them)
- Lots of tips to save time, shop and cook more efficiently
- Tried and tested, kid-friendly recipes from my test kitchen
- Practical advice e.g., how to increase vegetables for children's lunches, snacks etc
- Strategic help for feeding children including trying new foods (using my extensive psychology and health promotion training).
Finally, every child is individual, with different preferences and dislikes, in terms of textures, tastes etc and I always work to build on this unique starting point.