What we feed our babies and children is one of the biggest gifts we can give them in terms of their overall health long term. More and more research is concluding that childhood diets are one of the leading causes of degenerative diseases in adulthood. This is because before the ages of 10 years old their cells are replicating, their DNA is being consolidated and their immune systems are becoming the foundation for their overall health.
Processed foods cause cell methylation, this is not good, it weakens their DNA……this one of the reasons they become predisposed to adult illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Greens are a miracle food when it comes to strengthening the DNA and cell methylation. Greens reduce inflammation, provide fibre (which feeds their good gut flora) and critical nutrients for their growing bodies.
So now we know WHY it is so important to get our little ones eating greens …… but how the heck do we get it in them?
Having two out of three very fussy eaters I have a secret weapon that has helped me without fail every night for years to get those green leaves in!!!
What is it? …………..
Reading!!!!Reading to them at dinner time, yip that is my secret weapon! Reading to your little one while they are eating is one of the easiest ways to get little fussies to eat well. Half the reason kids refuse to eat after a few bites is that they are bored at the table and I’ve found sitting reading to our little ones keeps them engaged and happy at the table.
I don’t start off reading straight from the word go, I save it till their concentration wavers and they start trying to bolt every two seconds!
So this is how it rolls in our house
• Start your dinner all together sitting at the table (role modelling good behaviour, being together as a family)
• Give thanks to the farmers and growers for the food (teaching them where food comes from and fosters gratitude for those who grow and prepare the food)
• Talk about what each food offers to our bodies nutritionally (this teaches them that food is nourishment, that it has a purpose and is not just to stop hunger or fill us up)
• Talk about how chewing our food tells our tummy that the food is coming and that our body will soon be getting all the good nutrients out of the food. Explaining that chewing makes the enzymes we need to breakdown our food so our bodies can use it.
• General chit chat, letting your little one eat unassisted until their concentration starts to waver.
• Get out a book when they start to get bored, pop bites into their mouth as they’re engrossed in the story.
• With leafy greens I started on lettuce first, once they were eating this well for a few weeks introduce more richly green leaves i.e. spinach and beetroot leaves (all raw… kids really seem to hate cooked greens, raw is full of fantastic enzymes that help us digest our food)
• When you pop a leaf into their mouths roll it up so it is hard, tight and compact (we call them lettuce rolls) this makes the leaf easy to chew and not all flappy!
• Praise them for their efforts and tell them how happy their body will be because they tried such healthy food. (Don’t reward with sweet treats)
Kids then develop a taste for the food they’re eating and will be more likely to eat the food independently at subsequent meals.
You won’t need to do this forever! This is my ammo most nights with Mr 3 especially when he’s really tired. Mr 6 and 8 eat all greens independently now, in fact the greens are usually the first thing gone off their plates!!!
This little strategy allows our kids to develop a taste for healthy food … their bodies will soon crave it. You will find they will be less and less resistant to eating greens and will soon be happily eating more independently without distraction.
Sitting and reading is a lovely bonding time and kids learn to love stories with dinner. Much better than bribery and raised voices trying to get them to eat their greens! Everyone leaves the table happy.
As a Mum there’s nothing nicer than knowing your kids are full of healthy food and that you’ve just spent some lovely quality time with them in the process.
Good luck, let me know how you get on x