In today’s episode, Dr. Lisa speaks with holistic nutrition and health coach Amanda Beatty about creating healthy food habits for the whole family, how to get picky eaters to try new foods, and the importance of modelling good food habits in the home. In addition to being a mother of two little ones, she is a self-professed science nerd, food aficionado, lover of fitness and embracer of all things natural.
Powerful Mama Advice from Amanda:
It is not your job to stop your kids’ crying all the time. Crying can be an important release of stress and tool for processing of emotions. You can be a safe space for your children when they need to cry.
When her daughter was 6 months old, Amanda realized that her daughter was a big deep feeler like her mama. Her daughter didn’t sleep well during the night if Amanda acted to stop her daughter’s crying with nursing. Her daughter would be able to sleep peacefully at night when she started helping her daughter to navigate her early emotions by telling her she was safe. Managing her newborn’s crying was easier the second time around!
Mealtime can be difficult for your family!
Challenges around food can include:
- Trying new foods
- Kids unhappy about being taken away from playtime
- Kids not wanting to sit at the dinner table
- Not enjoying different flavours and textures
How do you create healthy habits for your family around food?
The earlier, the better! But don’t worry, it’s never too late!
Amanda recommends staying focused on the long game, developing habits over weeks, months and years instead of worrying about each meal or each day. Trust your child’s instincts (within reason!) and pay attention to what your child eats over 4 or 5 days, instead of expecting all macronutrients to be balanced in one day or the same volume of food eaten every day.
Leave your child’s unfinished meal plate on the table in case they are hungry and want a snack an hour after they said they were done eating.
While not always possible, try to eat together as a family as often as possible. Also eat the same food, instead of cooking multiple meals for different family members. Adjust the parents’ meal instead of adjusting what your children eat, especially when you are still introducing foods to your little ones. Have your favourite foods or treats when you’re not with your kids or after your kids are in bed.
Avoid using bribes, rewards or punishments around food. As a result, you can prevent your child from associating their goodness with clearing their plate or ignoring their own innate understanding if they are hungry or full. Bribes tend to become less and less successful over time. Watch what words you use.
- “First lunch, then popsicle” instead of “If you finish your meal, you get dessert”
- “It’s not time for cookies” instead of “Cookies aren’t healthy for breakfast”
- “That’s ok, maybe when you’re older” when your toddler says “I don’t like that”
Involve your kids as much as possible in growing their food in a garden or choosing their food at the grocery store or farmers market, especially veggies. Amanda’s daughter got really excited about eating salad after helping to make a yummy salad dressing of honey, frozen strawberries, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Letting her lick a spoonful of honey really helped.
Amanda started her daughter on salad by using her favourite vegetable, cucumber, as a base with diced greens on top. She then gradually added more and more veggies over time. She now eats the exact same salad that Amanda does!
What you do is way more important than what you say. You have to model the behaviour you want to see. Amanda and her husband Jon see raising kids as an opportunity to check in on your own habits and your own biases.
Identify what you want your kids’ health habits to be and what your own health habits are. If you identify as a picky eater or are biased against having veggies as breakfast, you can’t expect your children to not have those same habits and beliefs. Consider repatterning or retraining yourself and your own food habits.
Quick hacks for expanding the horizons of picky eaters:
- Serve vegetables at every meal
- Let your kids see you eat vegetables at every meal
- Create a Share Plate – let your kids pick their favourite food from a large plate of a variety of foods that the whole family eats and add new foods over time (shout out to @holistic_leigh on Instagram for this awesome tip!)
Today’s Mama Must Haves:
Amanda loves a book called, “French Kids Eat Everything” to balance out her scientific, clinical approach to nutrition.
Find the book HERE on Amazon.
Dr. Lisa’s favourite brand of spices is Simply Organic. There’s a lot of great variety of high quality of spices that you can use to get your kids acquainted with different flavours without worrying about pesticide residues.
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