Behaviour, FOOD, HEALTH AND WELLBEING, HEALTHY EATING, NUTRITION

FUSSY FISH- How to Increase Your Child’s Brain Potential.

Fussy eating driving you mad? Want to ensure your child is reaching their optimum learning potential?

Since lockdown, former parents of children I’ve cared for have been getting in touch to ask me what meals and recipes I used to cook for their childrens tea, as they won’t eat anything remotely healthy at home.

I know many parents struggle with time to cook nutritious, healthy meals, that they know their children simply won’t eat.

It’s heart breaking when you’ve lovingly prepared a meal, only to end up scraping it all in the bin. Our children are not concerned that we have spent hours slaving over a hot stove, spent a fortune on the best organic ingredients, or created a culinary piece of art.

So, we can forget trying to make them feel guilty for our labour, this only adds to their obstinate nature.

They can’t contemplate the future either and don’t understand it when we say;

 ‘If you don’t eat now, you’ll be hungry later.’

They can’t think that far ahead about how they might feel later. They think and feel at the moment they are in. That’s why feeling hungry is a good way of demonstrating the consequences of not eating their meal.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t persist in offering healthy meals every day. In fact, we should persist, day in, day out, until they understand there’s no alternatives.

The best way to do this is to offer foods they do like, along with those they don’t and try to be creative in combining ingredients.

Many children are fish haters but I’ve found that making a fish pie encourages them to eat more fish. I mix an assortment of wild pacific salmon, cod, and smoked haddock, with parsley sauce and petit pois and sweetcorn, topped with a creamy mash potato. It’s a comfort food favourite of mine that reminds me of my childhood and a dish I cooked for my children weekly whist young.

If you are listening to this on our podcast you can find images along with the accompanying blog on our website http://www.happychild.care

Fish pie is a much healthier alternative to fish fingers and chips. Anything fried or processed provide empty calories, that offer no nutrients for healthy growth and brain development, such as essential vitamins, minerals and omegas.

Long chain Omega 3 is vital to our childrens intellectual development. In fact, infants who don’t get enough (DHA) are 48% more likely to score in the lowest quartile of IQ tests. We can help support our children’s brain potential and increase their intake of omega 3, by offering oily fish 3 times a week.

Ideally our children should have between 125mg and 250mg of DHA a day. If not from their diet, then from an omega 3 supplement every day. Always do your research on supplements first though, to check dosages and correct times to take them and that they won’t adversely affect any medication your child is on.

How we cook food is important to our children’s health. Swapping fried foods for poached, boiled or steamed options, and chips for boiled, mashed or jacket potatoes (skin left on) is a healthier option.

Here is my easy, peasy, fish pie, which usually takes around 40 minutes to prepare and cook, although I prep it all earlier in the day and heat it up in the oven after the school run, making it a winner, winner fish dinner!

Easy Peasy Fish Pie

Wild Pacific Salmon, Smoked Haddock and Cod, Parsley Sauce and Boiled Potatoes.

Put 2 bags of mixed fish (available from most supermarkets, around 800g) into a baking tray and cover with foil and cook as per cooking instructions on the packet.

Try not to overcook as this will dry fish out and make it rubbery and we have to cook it again later.

Peel and cut into cubes a bag of white potatoes (2.5 kg) and boil.

Blend 600ml (a pint) of full fat milk into a saucepan with 2 packets of parsley sauce mix, stir continuously.

Take fish out when cooked and put into a large baking dish, mix in the parsley sauce and 2 cupsful of petit pois and 2 cupsful of sweetcorn.

Mash the potatoes with a small pat or two of butter and splash of milk and top the fish mix with the mash potato and pop in the over to reheat for 20 minutes, low heat, to crisp up mash topping.

Serve with broccoli.

This is a quick dish to ensure they get three of their recommended daily amount of vegetables and some healthy fish (Salmon is the richest, oily fish source of protein). I make this amount for approximately 8 children, with broccoli extra on the side, so if you are a smaller family or have adults to feed vary the amount of ingredients, for example, a family of 3 will only need 1 bag of mixed fish and less potatoes.

TWO TEA TIME CHOICES

Don’t get upset if they refuse to eat the fish pie that you’ve lovingly cooked them though. And definitely don’t be tempted to give them fish fingers instead because they refuse to eat it.

If we do, they will come to expect their preferred alternative all the time. Not because they prefer the fish fingers to the fish pie, but because they will have learnt how to get their own way. You can throw the fish pie in the bin if they refuse to eat it, but never give them anything else. If they are not hungry or refuse to eat, simply clear it away and wait until their next meal.

As long as we don’t allow them to snack unhealthily in the meantime, they’ll soon associate their refusal to eat dinner with hunger, serving as a good reminder to eat their next meal and giving them an appetite.

The food is there if they are hungry and want it, they have a choice. Eat it or don’t. Not fish pie or fish fingers.

Once they realize they have the choice to eat it or not, and it doesn’t bother us either way, then, if hungry, they will eat it.

You may not think it can be this simple and you may have tried unsuccessfully in the past, but perseverance is key. I know it works as it’s a method I’ve seen work with lots of children over the years, over and over again. I’ve never known it to fail, unless parents have given up before they’ve given it a real go.

We have to mean what we say though and say what we mean, calmly and confidently.

Such as,

 ‘The food’s there if you are hungry, if not, you don’t have to eat it, but there will be nothing else to eat.’  

They might say they are hungry but don’t like what we are offering them, but we mustn’t feel guilty for doing the right thing, they have a choice.

Some parents protest their children would never eat fish pie, but they never really offer it, especially if they dislike it themselves.

Fish pie is not a punishment, its love on a plate.

You can read more about fussy and resistant eaters in my worldwide, best selling book – The Confident Parents Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy and Successful Child available from all good book shops. Alternatively, you can now listen to the audio version on Audible or iTunes, click button below or visit Amazon.

You can also read my latest contribution in the Spring issue of Mums and tots magazine, featuring a 3 page excerpt from my book, on sale now.

Mums and tots spring issue out now.

Stay Present, Stay Proactive,

Em x

Behaviour, FOOD, HEALTH AND WELLBEING, HEALTHY EATING, Learning, NUTRITION, Powerful Parents

Food Knowledge is Parenting Power

As parents most of us have good intentions when it comes to giving our children a healthy well-balanced diet but there are many reasons why this is often difficult in reality.

Children can be very adamant when it come to not eating certain types of food and very persuasive and demanding when it comes to eating unhealthy foods. Parenting throws so many daily battles to get through with our children, such as school work, going to bed on time and behaviour, that food can easily get overlooked as a less important issue to deal with. Yet, food impacts our childrens academic abilities, sleeping patterns and behaviour. So, it should be one of the first things we address.

THE U URSELF ROUTINE

That’s why I included it in The U URSELF Routine that I use with parents and why I dedicated a whole chapter to it in my book – The Confident Parents Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy and Successful Child.

You can listen more about The U URSELF Routine and Food by clicking the link below.

https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/B08NWH6ZFW/?source_code=AUKFrDlWS02231890H6-BK-ACX0-223651&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_223651_rh_uk

There’s a rise in medical psychiatrists who specialise in childrens behavioural, cognitive, or learning issues who prioritise a child’s nutrition before anything else.

Wouldn’t it be a lot better for our children, if underlying conditions could be resolved through good nutrition and addressing deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, rather than using pharmaceuticals?

According to The Health Sciences Academy | Expert Nutrition Science Certifications — The Health Sciences Academy – what your child eats can favourably or unfavourably affect their;

  • Intelligence
  • Attention span
  • Concentration
  • Learning capacity
  • Memory
  • Behaviour
  • Problem solving abilities
  • Mood stability
  • Emotional response
  • Physical co ordination
  • Mental energy
  • Sleep

WHAT’S IN YOUR SHOPPING BASKET?

When shopping it’s a mystery trying to decipher the jargon on food packets, and often, we just don’t have the time.  But it’s worth taking a course or reading a few books on nutrition though, as what we think is healthy or low fat often isn’t and those foreign looking words can be confusing and can have many different names for the same thing, that are hard to identify.

For example did you know that there are 65 names for sugar?

We may associate sweet foods with sugar, such as biscuits but what about bread which usually contains added sugars or those healthy looking ready made tomatoe soups?

SHARING IS CARING

As a committed, lifelong learner, I believe sharing knowledge is powerful in helping to positively change the world we live in. But I know as parents, we just don’t have enough knowledge or information on good nutrition and the impact that poor nutrition can have, both short and long-term. So, I’m going to make it my mission to help parents overcome this barrier to their child’s health and wellbeing. Future blogs will centre heavily on the effects of nutrition on physical, emotional and intellectual development, if this is something you want to learn more about, then don’t forget to sign up to our blogs and newsletters and please join me on this journey.

Stay Powerful,

Em x

home grown cucumber
Esteem, FOOD, HEALTHY EATING, Learning, Routine, The U URSELF Routine

MAKING FOOD FUN FOR CHILDREN

BOOSTING IMMUNE SYSTEM

Now children are gradually returning to childcare and school many parents are concerned about boosting their children’s immunity.

Covid -19 is still present in our society, it’s not gone yet, despite some easing up on lock down restrictions, and children can be affected by it too.

There’s not one magical solution to prevent it or boost our childrens immune system but there are a few things we can all do to help.

ROUTINE

A good routine as always is key.  

Exercise, a good night’s sleep, and a variety of nutritious food is fundamental to any routine. But now this is more important than ever when it comes to assisting our children’s immune system.

Exercise.

You can learn more about the benefits of implementing daily routine in your child’s life by reading my book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child, available from all good book stockists now.

KEEP THEM HYDRATED

Fruit infused water for a flavoured alternative!

Our children need water to help their bodies function properly, so we need to keep those hydration levels topped up throughout the day. If they are not a fan of water then try infusing their water with fruit, so they get a natural flavour without the sugar dump of a smoothie which can cause a sudden sugar high, resulting in a sudden dip in energy.

NUTRTION

As our childrens immune system is still developing, they need all the essential amino acids, which can be found in, poultry, fish, eggs and yoghurt.

If however we are raising our children vegan, this can pose a problem, as there’s no one single source of plant food that will offer all the essential amino acids our children need. Therefore, we need to make sure they get a good variety of plant based foods, such as, beans, lentils, rice, oats, grains, seeds, root and leafy green vegetables.

It’s a good idea to increase these in your child’s diet, whether they are vegan or not if they are fighting any type of viral infection, as essential micronutrients maybe depleted, such as the minerals, selenium, zinc and iron and vitamins C, D and A.

Selenium can be found in tuna, mushrooms, cottage cheese, herrings, cod, chicken, courgettes and brazil nuts.

Zinc in lamb, shrimp’s, haddock, egg yolks, and nuts such as almonds, pecan, brazil and peanuts and also green peas, turnips, oats, rye and whole wheat grain.

Iron can be found in pork, lamb, pork and beef liver, lentils, spinach, parsley, prunes, raisins, dates, pumpkin and sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, pecan, brazil and cashew nuts.

For Vitamin C, try these immune strengthening, infection fighting foods- cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, peppers, watercress, tomatoes, strawberries, lemons, limes, melons, oranges, kiwi fruit and grapefruit.

Vitamin D is needed to keep our little one’s bones strong and healthy and help fight tooth decay. Try feeding them, fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel or cottage cheese and eggs and get them outside for some sun (but don’t forget the sunscreen factor 50)

Our very own home grown wonky veg.

Vitamin A, will help to protect them against infections and frequent colds. For an antioxidant immune boost, include in their diet plenty of carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, pumpkin, broccoli, tomatoes, tangerines, papayas, apricots, mangoes, melon and watercress (try adding watercress into their sandwiches, egg and cress make a lovely combination giving them their vitamin C, D and A in one sitting)

As well as adding fermentable fibre from beans and fruits, like bananas that they can digest and use as energy, while feeding their good gut bacteria, and including pro-biotics such as yoghurts can lead to numerous health benefits for our children.

Bananas with benefits.

One of the biggest challenges most parents face though is getting their children to eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet of fruit and vegetables.

Make food fun!

The easiest solution I’ve found is to approach this issue from a child’s perspective – which basically means – make food fun!

GROW YOUR OWN

A small vegetable patch in the garden, window box, or allotment can be a great investment, providing fresh air, fruit, vegetables, nature, exercise, education, and a fun hobby for some Us Time together. 

cucumber
We picked this cucumber today from our garden, grown in a basic grow bag which are available from most supermarkets or DIY Stores, no fancy green house or allotment or lots of space or money required, just add, water, love and sun as my husband says!

INVOLVE THEM

Involving them with food shopping, preparation, and spending time discussing ingredients and where they come from, looking at recipe books, watching cookery programmes, and the cooking and preparing of meals provides children with basic general knowledge and understanding of the world.

My daughter has always loved to cook from a young age.

EDUCATE THEM

Assisting us in meal preparation will also teach them mathematical concepts such as weighing, timing, and food in its natural state, and the scientific changes it goes through, such as solids melting.

Giving them a part to play at meal times by way of laying the table and helping us out also boosts their self-esteem. And having a regular mealtime routine ensures they get the right type of food they need at the right time.

When our children were young we had an allotment but still grew lots of veg in our garden too so the children could grow their own wonky vegetables.

A lot of children today think their food originates from a Supermarket. We can educate them about food and where it comes from when we involve them and grow our own, this encourages healthier eating too. Sowing, planting, picking, preparing, and cooking their own food teaches them the whole food process, from where it comes from to how it ends up on their plate. And provides a sense of achievement and pride, helping them feel connected to the food they eat, as well as encouraging them to experiment with new foods they wouldn’t normally.

To read more about Food and The U URSELF Routine you can take a sneak peek inside The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child below.

Until next time,

Stay Present,

Em x

GOALS, HEALTHY EATING, PARENTING, PLANNING AHEAD, WEIGHT LOSS

WHAT CAN YOU CHANGE MOVING FORWARD?

Eating high calorific foods, reduced activity levels and increased alcohol consumption were some of the thing’s lockdown comforted us with.

wine, cheese and processed meat a thing of the past or occasional treat?

But moving forward it’s time to get out of our comfort zone on the couch and get going again.

With the easing of lockdown many of us moving forward will want to make some changes. Whether its healthier eating, more exercise or reducing our alcohol intake.

NO PLAN IS A PLAN TO FAIL

For positive change to be effective we have to plan ahead.

KEEP A DIARY OR JOURNAL- If you write down your goals in a way that inspires you, you increase your chances of success in achieving your goals by a whopping 30%!

KEEP FOCUSED – If you can measure your progress when working towards your goals, this figure increases to a staggering 60%!!!

SMARTER- As a Coach one way I help clients increase their chances of success in any endeavour is to, make sure my clients create SMARTER Goals.

These are: –

SPECIFIC – YOUR Goal, e.g. to be a certain dress size.  

MEASURABLE- Size 10 e.g. is the measurement you want to be.

ACHIEVABLE – Make a meal & exercise plan to achieve your goal e.g. fruit salad for breakfast, soup for lunch, fish & salad for supper- aerobics 3 times a week.

RELEVANT- It must mean something to you, e.g. to look amazing in your bikini.

TIMED- when do you want to see the results, e.g. 6 months from now in time for your holiday in Spain.

ENTICING- How would that impact your life in exciting ways e.g. feel confident to start dating again.

RECORDABLE- Recording and Reviewing your results along your journey will keep you motivated to continue and help you change your plan if somethings not working.

TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR ENVIRONMENT- So for example if your goal is not to drink alcohol on a weekday, you have to make sure that you have no alcohol in your house to tempt you. If its to eat healthier then a good plan would be to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables, so you have a handy snack available when you need it and have fresh wholesome foods to include in your meals.

Theres always healthier alternatives to your favourite high calorie foods.

PREPARE AHEAD- when going to work planning what you’ll have for lunch and taking your own packed lunch will not only save you some pounds money wise but also weight wise if you choose healthy options, so if one of your goals is to lose weight or just be healthy this will help you achieve that goal.

Also, by shopping in advance for groceries (when you are not hungry, I recommend eating something before you do your grocery shopping)  that are healthy and batch cooking meals on your day off and freezing them, you ensure that when you get home from work, exhausted and starving, that you’ll have something quick, convenient and healthy to re heat.

My 5 Moving Forward Changes are;

  1. To eat at least 2 servings of fresh fruit a day
  2. Make a third of my diet vegetables
  3. To only drink alcohol at the weekend
  4. To do weight bearing exercise 3 times a week
  5. To stop eating processed meats like ham, bacon, sausages etc…

What’s YOUR 5 Moving Forward Changes?

  1. ———————————————–
  2. ———————————————–
  3. ———————————————–
  4. ———————————————–
  5. ———————————————–
My favourite home made soup is my Tomatoe & Basil. Comforting but kind.

Now its time for you to break each change down into mini changes and make them SMARTER by answering the following questions.

  1. I will achieve the following (e.g. Lose weight and be a dress size 10) ————————————————————————————————————————————————————
  2. I will achieve this because (I want to look good in my bikini on holiday)————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
  3. Here are the things I need to do (my mini goals) in this order to achieve my goal.

First: (e.g. snack on fruit) —————————————————————————–

Secondly(e.g. increase my vegetable intake)  : ———————————————————————–

Thirdly (e.g. remove all alcohol from my environment):—————————————————————————

Fourthly (e.g. order some home weight bearing equipment such as handy dumbbells and some resistance bands and make an exercise plan):————————————————————————-

Fifthly (e.g. make a shopping list to include plenty of fresh fruit vegetables and fish and no processed meat):—————————————————————————–

  • Today I will start by (e.g. looking for healthy vegetable soup recipes on the internet) ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
  • For this I need access to the internet, find some recipes to follow, to buy a hand blender and some ingredients and I will get these from the supermarket and the internet  ———————————————————————————-
  • I will know when I’ve been successful in achieving my mini goal when- (e.g. I find a healthy soup that I enjoy eating and is quick and easy to make.)
  • I will reward myself for achieving this by –  (e.g. buying a new bikini in my goal size 10) ——————————————————————————
  • The obstacles I may face are (e.g. not finding a recipe I like or can quickly or easily cook)————————————————————————————————————————————————————
  • To over come this I’m going to-  (e.g. try a few different recipes on my day off, when I can take my time and then make  a big pot of my preferred soup and freeze for the rest of the week) —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
  • I will review my progress ( e.g. in 2 weeks’ time on the 15th of July)——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–
  • This is the progress I’ve made (e.g. I’ve lost 4 pound)————————————————————————————————————————–
  • I will be ready to tackle my next mini goal when (e.g. I have formed the habit of having home made soup for lunch everyday for 2 weeks)———————————————————————————————————
  • My next mini goal is (e.g. to start weight bearing /resistance exercise/ to join my local gym or buy some resistance weights I can use at home or do push-ups & sit-ups)——————————————————-

And then start the 12- step process above again for measuring that mini goal. Until eventually you will be on the path of achieving all 5 of your Moving Forward Changes.

Don’t dive straight in and try to achieve all 5 Moving Forward Goals at once, start with the easiest one first then, once you feel you are in good stride with that mini goal move onto the next, ideally leaving two weeks between them.

Don’t forget to keep a journal or diary of- your goal, your progress, your setbacks and success!

Let me know your goals moving forward, you can tweet me #My5MovingForward or DM me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. When you share your goals, you make then real and commit so share with your friends and family too

Or if you’d like 1:1 help in achieving your goals email me today emma@happychildcare.club or take a look at our  Mumatherapy page for more information. link here

Until next time Stay Present,

Em x

Photo by Yukie Emiko Obi Onyeador Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis Rawan Yasser Yulissa Tagle on Unsplash