The family that eat together….stay together

photo-5   Many Australian’s celebrate Mother’s Day by showing their love, appreciation for the achievements and efforts of mothers, motherly figures. A special mention to those first time mothers, even though your little bub cannot express their appreciation, there are many years to come. Hopefully, many mother’s were spoiled, and I sure many families spent the day eating and celebrating together, I know our family definitely spent the day eating, from dawn to dusk. Getting the whole family to sit down for dinner can be tricky especially in this modern day, hectic day-to-day life schedule. From working late, homework, sport training and cooking, many family members eat a ‘whatever’ time suits them best, this is fine from time to time. Studies have shown that families that eat together more than three to fours a times a week have shown to demonstrate positive attributes when it comes to health, family relationships and social developments.

My top reasons to eat at the dining table:

Communication and well-being The family dinner table is environment not only for dining, but is a place where children learn manners, interact with people, have a chance to ‘catch up’ with life events and of course new foods experiences. The eating of food at the table are essential part of the roles into feelings around food and family.

Modelling food behaviours A great opportunity to display to your children meal etiquette, social skills and exposure and exploration to trying new food. Try not to force or instruct, be a leader and guider.

Expand there food horizon Encouraging new foods without being forceful nor bribing. Introduce a new food along with known foods. Remember as I have mentioned before it can take 7-15 exposures to a new food before it is accepted, so be patient and persistent. Trying new foods for your children will expand your families food vocab.

Nourish your bodies Meals prepared in your kitchen have the power to be more nutritious and healthy, as you can control what goes in. Try to include lots of colourful vegetables and fruits, dairy products packed with the goodness of fibre, calcium, vitamins!

Become chefs Many children are missing out on the importance of knowing how to cook  meals. I think it is important to involve families in menu planing, grocery shopping, lunch box packing. Get your little ones to chop basic vegetables (obviously blunt knives), mixing and stirring and setting the table. Working as a team can not only put the meal on the table faster but makes every member have a duty and somewhat ‘ownership’ of a meal.

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Lots of love to my mother, we love you so much and especially your amazing cooking, you have brought our family together at every meal!

The best mocktail for your bub

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There is a lot of emphasis about healthy food choices for your bubs, but what about healthy drink choices? 

Children’s drink choices can affect their overall health. During the summer heat in Australia, children can become easily dehydrated, so keeping up with their fluid is very important. However, what your kids drink can drastically affect the amount of calories consumed.  By making healthy drink options, you’ll be helping your child have a better overall diet. The Australian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents state that ‘a child’s fluid needs are best met by water and milk’.

Offering drinks such as sugary soft drinks, fruit drinks or cordials can be referred to as ’empty’ calories, that is drinks they are a high in calories but provide little nutritional value and also cause tooth decay (not so good for the dental bills!).

The best type of Mocktail

Very easy…two simple ingredients that are easily accessible. All you need is a tap with running water and a cow with a good supply of milk (not really..just pre-made cows milk!).

Water:
One of the most essential nutrients for life, needed for bodily processes. Plain water should be the fluid of choice, the human body is constantly expelling water from lungs and skin. Additionally, free calories and no cost…let it flow freely.

Milk:
Milk also contains high amounts of water to aid with hydration, but also is nutrient dense in relation to amount of calories.  It contains essential nutrients, not only the main contributor to calcium but also protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamin A, B12, riboflavin and phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
What about flavoured milk? Also contains the essential nutrients, however it contains added sugar,  offer plain cows milk as the main source of milk to your child.

The not so great Mocktail

 The ingredients found in fruit drinks, fizzy drinks and other sweetened drinks tend to be highly processed and contain a wide range of different preservatives and additives such as sugar, food acids, sweeteners, citric acid, sulfer dioxde and the list is endless.

Fruit juice:
You do not need to always say no, as juice does provide nutrients such as vitamin C, folate and antioxidants, but less than milk. Just keep in mind, fruit juice contains natural sugar which is calories similar to soft drink, and usually all the goodness of the fibre is usually removed which is the good stuff and contribute to poor dental health. Instead of offering fruit juice it is better to encourage whole fruits and vegetables.

Sugary drinks:
Fizzy drinks and other sweetened drinks such as cordials, fruit poppers provide high amounts of calories but lack in  nutrients. If kids have lots of sweetened drinks it can compromise their diets, as they become full and unable to eat foods with high nutritional value. Also, they can end up with a unbalanced diet and increase risk of dental caries and obesity.

I will leave you with one simple thought…

                                        LESS IS BEST FOR YOUR BUB’S MOCKTAIL

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The 101 guide to your child’s lunch box

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A healthy and nutritious lunch box packed with optimum goodness will help keep your children being alert and focused throughout the day. However, no matter how healthy and nutritious the foods you supply, it will not provide any nutritional value if the lunchbox comes back full at the end of the day!

This is your 101 guide to prepare a healthy, nutritious and delicious lunchbox for your children.

1. Aim to provide foods from the 5 ESSENTIAL food group:
1. Fruits
2. Carbohydrate
3. Meat and meat alternatives
4. Dairy
5. Vegetables

For example your child’s daily meal should look similar to this:

Meal Type Food Group Suggestion
Breakfast Carbohydrate + dairy
Morning Tea Fruit + dairy
Lunch Carbohydrate + meat or alternative + vegetables
Afternoon Tea Carbohydrate + dairy
Dinner Carbohydrate + meat or alternative + vegetables
Supper Dairy + fruit

**Click here for practical lunch box ideas for kids** 

2. A WIDE variety of fruit and vegetables

  • Fresh fruit cut and ready to eat. For younger children, avoid choosing whole fruits which are large and they cannot fit in their hand. Fruit salad is ideal, it is colourful, easy to eat and bursting with nutrients and fibre (IF CUTTING FRUIT MAKE SURE YOU SQUEEZE LEMON TO AVOID BROWNING)
  • Avoid fruits with lots of seeds
  • Freeze fruits in the summer
  • Avoid fruit juices/poppers these are filling and packed with sugar! Stick to the H2O…
  • Vegetables are always harder to sneak into kids diet,  offer cutting raw carrots, cucumbers or capsicum in zip lock bags
  • Add left over sweet potato, pumpkin to sandwiches, rolls or wraps
  • Grate cucumber, snow peas, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, avocados for fillings

3. Go for wholesome starchy foods

  • Choose wholemeal, grainy breads, seedy bread rolls, pita bread, lavash bread or wraps
  • To add variety instead of sandwiches e.g. choose a selection of vegetables and cold meat/cheese and allow your child to build their own sandwich
  • If sandwiches are getting boring, try cold pasta or rice salads with grated vegetables

4.Choose a good source of protein

  • Add lean meats to sandwiches or simply rolls of cold meats as a snack e.g. ham or chicken
  • Tinned tuna or salmon (fresh water or canola oil)
  • Boiled eggs

5. Reduced fat dairy food

  • Choose low fat yoghurts, in the summer freeze the tubes of yoghurt so they are cold by lunch time
  • Add cheese and rice crackers

***General Tips***

  • Get your kids involved with the preparation of creating their lunch box, give them options for different fruits or sandwich fillings
  • Avoid treats in their lunch box
  • Try baking healthy muffins or slices (freeze the baked goods!) avoid processed muesli bars or biscuits if possible
  • Use a bright coloured lunch box
  • Be creative and NOT repetitive!