Growing up my dad used to say that no matter what, we must ‘create our own weather’. Pollyanna used to play the thankful game and we have heard over and over that speaking positive language elicits positive response and behaviour. Apply this to good food and nutrition and you might just find that the outcome of this time is a healthier family where kids are eating a larger variety and choice of foods.
What healthy habits could we create during this lockdown time?
- Home Cooking
There is something magical about home-cooked foods and the smells it brings verse warming up a pre-cooked meal. If you struggle with creativity, you can always request an online meal delivery service where the recipe is provided and the ingredients are put together. Otherwise, ask your children to each google a favourite recipe and in your weekly essential trip to the shops, buy the ingredients for the week’s meals ahead. Over the weekend, if your kids are older you can divide the family into teams and do a cook off. So use this time where the access to restaurants and take-away’s is limited to get back to basics.
- Eating Together as a Family
Families that eat together eat a bigger variety of foods, talk and interact more and end up doing life together verse doing life separately. Even if you are working while at home, you can use this time to block meal times off where you all sit and eat together. You do not all have to eat the same thing but can put a variety of ingredients on the table and everyone constructs their own lunch for example. When kids watch their parents eat, they are more likely to want to at least try or deal with the food.
- Integrating Movement and Exercise
How about an indoor obstacle course – this is great to up the activity level around the house.
Outdoor obstacle courses and ball games can get the whole family moving and active and will become a lasting habit of fun activity time at home.
- Resolving Picky EatingThere is no better time to resolve picky eating than now. Access to ‘go to’ foods that can only be found in take aways and restaurants are no longer available so you can genuinely and without guilt, stand your ground when your child throws their fifth tantrum for the MacDonald’s chicken nuggets. Use this time to food chain as anything home cooked is healthier than fast food. So if nuggets are the order of the day, make your own from scratch or choose a healthier store bought alternative. Alternatively, you could just scrap the chicken nuggets altogether and offer a piece of softly cooked chicken instead. If Spur fries are the only ‘vegetable’ your child will eat, make your own from scratch or buy the frozen version and oven bake them verse deep frying, or offer an alternate starch altogether. Ensure you and your partner are on the same page and you can definitely work this to your advantage.
These ideas will not only lead to healthy families but also happy families that are connected and bonded during a time of crisis. Stay safe, isolate but connect.
Kath Megaw (BSc Dietetics Hons, Diploma Paediatric Dietetics) holds four medical qualifications including a paediatric dietetic qualification from the prestigious Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. She has been published in the Epilepsia journal on the use of the paediatric ketogenic diet in third-world settings and frequently speaks to groups of both professionals and parents on infant and childhood nutrition. Kath is the author of Real Food, Healthy, Happy Children (Quivertree Publications), the co-author of Feeding Sense (Metz press), The Low Carb Solution for Diabetics (Quivertree Publications), as well as co-author of Weaning Sense and Allergy Sense (Quivertree Publications). Kath has been in private practice for over 18 years and is the founder of Nutripaeds, a paediatric dietetic practice.