Nutritionist Verena Dickson is launching a series of local workshops to help children eat healthily
While parents are helplessly trying to manoeuvre a spoonful of broccoli past their toddler’s swivelling head, I’m steering the conversion around child nutrition in a new direction.
We get so hung up on what we are feeding our children, that we often disregard how we are feeding them. If you are raising children, you are in it for the long haul, so, getting broccoli into your child now matters less than nurturing a positive relationship with food long-term.
Our eating habits are formed in early childhood, but they are influenced by our surroundings our entire life. We need to equip children to make the right choices. Getting children to polish their plates via bribery, nagging or trickery will not prepare them for a lifetime of enjoying vegetables. If they pick up the peas you offer them of their own free will, they are much more likely to enjoy vegetables beyond childhood.
Children want to grow up to be just like their parents. A lot of their play and behaviour comes from mimicking us. We can use this to our advantage, without the need to pretend cauliflower is delicious. Putting veg back at the centre of your child’s diet is far simpler – bring back family mealtimes and lead by example.
Dinnertime used to be when families came together and enjoyed sharing a meal. Our busy lifestyles, paired with our love for evening TV, have increasingly relegated family meals shared at the dinner table to a nostalgic rarity, reserved for one day a year in December. Today, the benefits of regular family mealtimes, for children and grown-ups alike, are almost completely overlooked. Studies have shown that children who have family meals do better nutritionally, socially and academically.
First and foremost, however, make sure you enjoy vegetables yourself. My number one rule is ensuring meals are tasty and rewarding. Children will learn to enjoy eating a variety of foods fruit and vegetables by witnessing their parents tucking in themselves.
So, what is healthier than broccoli? A positive relationship to food! My upcoming workshops in Waltham Forest are not your ordinary eating sessions. I love helping parents transform meals into joyful, healthy and rewarding family events, without stress and conflict. Discover the tools available to you as parents and learn more about child nutrition and body-positive parenting via my website, or in my upcoming workshops at Walthamstow Toy Library and at Deeney’s in Leyton High Road.