So I’m back at my desk, coffee to hand, phone off and ready to write! If you read my post from Tuesday I have corralled three friends into being my first ‘stealthies’. We are meeting once a week for the next 4 weeks for a walk and a chat and I am attempting to coach them through the StealthHealth Key Concepts - seeing how we can apply them to their own particular circumstances.
One of the topics we brushed on this week was how it can be really hard to align our own health and weight loss goals with feeding a family – yes I’ve touched on this before (click here), but it’s worth exploring further because the more people I talk to the more I am convinced that this is the biggest obstacle facing us midlife mums in getting our shizzle together on the food and health front. Non-mums, I know there are other huge challenges and I have and will be covering those too.
Added to this I had an email from a subscriber in Australia who mentioned how feeding her two young boys was a bit of a nightmare and she felt a huge psychological pressure to ‘get it right’. So first I’d like to say ‘I totally hear you’ and secondly ‘it gets better!’ I hope I can offer a bit of reassurance, as a mother of slightly older kids, that picky eaters really do turn out OK and it’s honestly not something you’ve done ‘wrong’. If you listened to the Women’s Hour phone-in (linked in my last blog post) you’ll hear Laura Thomas speaking. She’s a dietician who hosts a podcast called ‘Don’t Salt My Game’, it’s a good one to follow if you are interested in the nitty-gritty of nutrition and she’s an advocate of intuitive eating. Anyway, she said something really interesting and I think it’s a helpful way of looking at things; as a parent it’s your responsibility to buy, prepare and offer a range of healthy food to your children BUT it is their responsibility to eat it.
Now this doesn’t mean plonking a fancy salad in front of them and expecting them to wolf it down, of course we have to make sure there is enough on the table that they will actually eat BUT we don’t have to pander to the point of having pasta, fish fingers and sausages on repeat. One thing I do which you might find helpful, is to deconstruct.
If you look at the photo accompanying this piece this is how my friend Hilde does salad in her house. Cool eh? Have a selection of different veg/salad items, some protein (eg. cheese, chicken, prawns, hardboiled eggs) and some good carbs (could be any cooked grain or brown rice, or some really nice wholegrain bread, or some boiled new potatoes). The point is there is something for everyone and the adults can make it more sophisticated – maybe throw in some anchovies, some roast veg, an exotic fruit … OK it’s quite a lot of bowls but if you get the kids to load the dishwasher it’s win win!
This idea of deconstructing meals can be extended to breakfast and dinner. How about a DIY cereal bar? Have tupperwares of different dried fruits, flakes (there are a range available now – corn, rice, spelt, rye) seeds, nuts, oats, granola (see my recipe for sugar-free granola) and everyone can have their own combo. Add some chopped fruit and yogurt and that’s a great breakfast.
And dinner? If you’re having fish, meat or chicken just cook it fairly plainly, have a bowl of mixed veg the kids will eat and a big bowl of rice, pasta or starchy veg but also make a nice sauce or salsa or an interesting veggie side-dish so you get to eat something a bit more grown-up. The kids can then choose what they want to put on their plate (maybe have a rule that they must have at least some protein, some veg and some carbs so it is balanced) and you never know they might surprise you, my son has just started eating eggs and spinach at the ripe old age of 17!
Sorry, I’ve gone on a bit there but hopefully that helps. I must dash now as it is my very over-due ‘roots’ day, I’m starting to resemble an ageing badger and it’s not a good look! Be sure to check back tomorrow if you are an egg fan as I’m going to be posting one of my fave recipes of all time.