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

FOOD, HEALTHY EATING, MUM GUILT, PREGNANCY, Proactive Parenting

Is a vegan diet healthy when you’re pregnant?

Becoming vegetarian is something I’ve thought deeply about recently. When coaching clients, removing meat from ones diet and eating more fruit and veg is something I always promote for health, weight loss and longevity. But one question I was recently asked by a soon to be mum was –

‘Is a vegan diet healthy when you’re pregnant?’

So to answer this question is Louise Palmer-Masterton, founder of multiple award-winning restaurants Stem & Glory. Warning – there’s mouth watering food pics from Stem + Glory throughout this post!

Veganism on its own tends to attract advice and comment from family, friends and so called ‘experts’, albeit largely well-meaning. It’s interesting that when you throw vegan pregnancy into the mix, and suddenly it becomes about moral choices. Veganism is ok it seems when it’s our own choice, but can be questioned when we are dealing with an unborn child.  The idea that we are omnivorous and therefore a vegan diet cannot be safe in pregnancy is a fairly widely held view.

This is a view that I, and many others, wholeheartedly disagree with. My own experience with being vegan during pregnancy is that it was completely normal. I was almost 40 when I became pregnant with my first daughter. I was very fit and healthy. My diet at that time consisted of mainly vegetables, small amounts of (mainly) wholegrains, lots of tofu, lentils, nuts, seeds and beans, and I continued eating in exactly the same way throughout my pregnancy. I had no morning sickness, no cravings, no complications, no deficiencies and delivered both my children safely at home. I said to myself when I first became pregnant that if I craved something in pregnancy, then I would eat it. Fortunately, I didn’t have any cravings. 

Sea Spiced Tofu

When writing this article I started wondering if my experience was an isolated one, or if in fact many vegan women experience completely problem-free pregnancies. I spoke to seven women who had been vegan through pregnancy (sometimes multiple pregnancies), and here is what they told me:

Can you get the right nutrition?

All of the vegan women I spoke to were very well researched on the subject of vegan nutrition. They were all aware of the need to increase protein intake in pregnancy by 10-20%, and did so with greater attention to eating balanced meals. Not all of them ate protein rich foods such as tofu, with many preferring natural, pulses, grains and vegetables. One of the women had a pre-existing iron deficiency which was managed through pregnancy, but none of the others developed an iron deficiency. One of the women not taking supplements increased her iron levels during pregnancy.

It is recommended in pregnancy for all mothers to take folic acid. With regard to vegan pregnancy it’s also recommended to take B12 and vitamin D. For both pregnancies, I did take a pregnancy multivitamin, and the recommended folic acid. Half of the women I spoke to did take supplements, but half did not, only taking the recommended folic acid. 

S&G Tacos

Angie, who was pregnant twice 33 and 40 years ago, and has raised four vegan children, says she “just ate sensibly, mainly fruit and veg. I’d been vegan for 13 years before I became pregnant and had never been unwell so assumed all was ok.”

This was echoed by Lee who has been through two pregnancies; “Didn’t even think about nutrition, I just followed what my body craved and had zero nutritional issues.”

Helen, who has been vegan for many years, said: “I always try to follow a balanced diet.  Supplements are recommended to pregnant people of all persuasions.  I took vegan vitamins and iron before, during and after my pregnancy.” 

Emma, who had been vegan for five years and continued to be vegan throughout her entire pregnancy said: “My iron levels were tested as standard and I was told the results were fantastic (without supplementation). I only supplemented folic acid, an algal oil omega 3, spirulina (for B12) and a probiotic, all of which would be useful to supplement in any pregnancy, whatever the diet. The omega 3 was a ‘top up’ since I was already consuming foods such as walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds etc.  Throughout my pregnancy I ensured I was receiving the correct nutrition in the same way anybody would, I consumed a healthy diet. I don’t like the way people like to make out that vegans are thinking at every meal about where they are going to get certain nutrients from, it’s nonsense, no one does that.”

Neither myself nor any of the women I spoke to reported any nutritional issues during their pregnancies.

Perfection on a plate – Katsu curry.

What are good vegan foods in pregnancy?

The women I spoke to also all followed a wholefood natural diet during pregnancy. None experienced cravings! Two of the seven experienced severe morning sickness and lived on toast for the first trimester. Two were diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the second trimester which they managed successfully on a wholefood vegan diet.

Soups and stews were frequently mentioned as ‘go to’ meals. Often mentioned were Marmite, tofu, tempeh, brown rice, aduki beans, lots of fresh organic veg, nuts, miso soup, peppermint tea and ginger.

Buffalo Cauliflower wings

Helen opted for bland but healthy: “When I had morning (all day) sickness I ate a lot of baked potatoes, as I didn’t fancy much else.  Luckily potatoes have vitamins in the skin, and so I felt they were better than other bland things.  I supplemented potatoes with vitamins and iron.  I also remember eating dried mangoes, cucumber, and miso at some points, and drinking orange juice.  When I recovered from the morning sickness, I ate a lot of everything.” 

For Holly who was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes in her second trimester, nut butters were a life saver due to their high fat/protein and low carb content. 

Danielle developed cholestasis in her second trimester which meant she could only eat low fat foods “so the vegan diet was great for this”.

Tracey who had severe morning sickness treated it with “lots of miso soup, peppermint tea, fennel seeds & crystallised ginger”.

Raw mango ‘cheese’cake

Atma was vegetarian when she became pregnant, but took the decision to go vegan. “Now I was carrying my own child it brought the ethics of the dairy trade to the forefront of my mind, I was unable to ignore it any more” Atma had previously studied macrobiotics, and when diagnosed with gestational diabetes in her second trimester was able to control the diabetes by applying macrobiotic principles. Not only did her bloods stabilise, but she felt happier, healthier and more clear headed than ever before.

Do pregnant vegans feel healthy?

They do! None of the women I spoke to had any issues with energy levels, and outside of the complications already mentioned, without exception all the women felt healthy during pregnancy. They felt the gestational diabetes was easier to manage on a vegan diet.

Emma said she continued to be vegan whilst breastfeeding and had a wonderful pregnancy with no issues whatsoever: “I wasn’t sick once, I had no cravings, I felt great the whole time, had energy, my skin was the best it’s ever been and I continued to work-out throughout the entire pregnancy. Postpartum I was told I had great colostrum, since my baby only lost 70g initially and I had a plentiful supply of milk, the health visitor actually said I had too much!”

Danielle: “I am very strong and the muscle of the household, even when pregnant if something needs lifting, I’m your girl”. I echo this and was practising and teaching ashtanga yoga until days before I had my first child, and full of energy throughout both pregnancies.

What do the health professionals think?

Now this really did give me a pleasant surprise. Every single one of the women I spoke to remarked on how helpful and understanding their health care team were of their vegan diet. Not one of them, including those with gestational diabetes, was advised to eat animal products.

Helen’s experience was consistently positive: “Two health professionals guessed I was vegan and were highly supportive. My first midwife appointment went something like this: ‘Have you read the list of things you need to stop?’ ‘Yes.  I don’t smoke or drink or eat those things anyway.’ ‘Are you a vegan then?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Excellent, I won’t need to persuade you to eat more fruit and vegetables.’ The second was a health visitor at my child’s one-year review.  The conversation went something like this: ‘What is your child’s favourite food?’ ‘Tofu.’ ‘Are you a vegan then?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Please tell me which cheese to buy.  What is the best milk?  Where do you eat out?’

Pulled Mushropom ‘Duck’ Pancakes

Emma: “I didn’t tell the midwives that I was vegan because I expected a negative response that I didn’t want to have to deal with at that time. However, in hospital after the birth the team were very supportive in providing me with decent vegan food.”

Says Che; “in my first pregnancy one of my Midwives was vegan herself and brought vegan biscuits to the antenatal classes. Second time the midwife was very supportive and unphased by the veganism. If anything, my GP and Midwives said ‘well, you don’t eat any of the stuff you have to avoid anyway so that’s good’.”

City Bowl

Two out of the seven women I spoke to however remarked on how terrible the vegan options were whilst they were in hospital!

So, if you are vegan or vegetarian, don’t let the myth that we need animal products put you off sticking to your plant-based diet. Eating a healthy vegan diet during your pregnancy can be good for you and your baby – and as there aren’t any vegan foods that are on the ‘no go’ list during pregnancy, you won’t have to give anything up either.

Louise Palmer-Masterton

Thank you for contributing this very interesting piece Louise.

Louise Palmer-Masterton is founder of multiple award-winning restaurants Stem & Glory; hip and trendy but accessible plant-based restaurants, serving delicious gourmet vegan food from locally sourced ingredients, 100% made on site. Stem & Glory also offers click-and-collect and local delivery in London and Cambridge.  www.stemandglory.uk  Lets hope these restaurants find their way to Wales, the food looks amazing.

If you enjoyed this blog post or any of our other posts this year then- please, please nominate us in the – Online Influence Awards 2020 in the parenting category 😊 you’ve got until Friday Night 9/10/2020 to enter here below-

They will ask you for our Twitter (@EmmaGrantAuthor) and Instagram (@emgrantauthor) handles in brackets.

Thank you so much,

😊

love and best wishes 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