Healthy start

Healthy start

By
David Frenkiel, Luise Vindahl Andersen
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742705583
Photographer
Johanna Frenkel

When Elsa was born, food became even more important to us. We knew from the start that we wanted her to eat the same things we did. When starting to plan this book, we discussed including a chapter with children’s food, but as we twisted and turned the subject, we realized that from the moment Elsa started eating solid food, she has actually been given the same things that we eat. And it has worked, so instead of sharing special children’s recipes, we’ll just give you our best tips on how to give your kids a good and healthy start to eating well. These things have worked for us and for Elsa, hopefully they will be helpful for you too.

Try to reduce or eliminate gluten and dairy products during your baby’s first year or two. They can be hard to digest for anyone, but especially for young children. Even if they have no allergies or food intolerances, many people react to these food irritants. No sugar during your baby’s first years. Sugar tastes good but has lots of downsides – it causes hyperactivity, lowers the immune system and can lead to tooth decay, to mention a few. We also have our own personal theory about sugar: once you start offering sweets, it will be harder to get children to try things that are not sweet. The longer you prolong the introduction of sugar, the more your children will be open to trying new foods and eating their greens, which makes life a whole lot easier for you.

‘One ice-cream every now and then won’t hurt her’. You wouldn’t believe how many times we’ve heard that sentence. And sure, they are right, she eats an ice cream and life goes on. But why? Until she was two years old, Elsa never asked for ice cream herself, she didn’t even know what it was. During a child’s first two years we as adults choose what food our children should eat and they learn from this – it’s our responsibility. If someone wants to give your baby an ice cream, it’s probably not because your baby asks for it, it’s because they want to give it to her. It’s worth thinking about.

If you are vegetarian, we recommend that you raise your children to be the same until they are old enough to express their own opinion. Why give your child something that you wouldn’t eat yourself? They will get plenty of proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals from vegetables, eggs, cheese, oils, fruit, beans, lentils, seeds and nuts. You can also give them a vitamin and mineral supplement for small children.

Eight tips on how to give your children a healthy start in life

Agree: talk everything through with your partner so you both agree on why you are doing this. if you don’t agree, every dinner will be an issue. Also discuss with your families and close friends to help them out with food suggestions. Otherwise, they might not dare invite you or your child for dinner any more ...

Keep it simple: don’t change your and your child’s eating habits to the impossible. Find a level that you and your family can live with. We decided that Elsa could eat fish when she stays with other families or in day care, even though we don’t eat it at home. It makes life easier for them, plus she get lots of good fats and proteins from it.

Be a good role model: the most important thing is not what food you put in front of your children, but what you eat yourself. That is what your children will want to eat as well. We rarely make special food for Elsa and we would never eat an ice cream in front of her if we weren’t prepared to give her one too.

Experiment with shape and texture: if a child does not like a certain food, try to cook it in different ways. It is not always the taste that children don’t like, but sometimes the shape or texture.

Boost their favourite food: a simple trick to get extra minerals and vitamins in your children’s diet is to add superfood ingredients to their favourite foods. Add vegetable juice, for example, when making bread or muffins. Blend spinach in pancake batter or broccoli, nettle powder or linseeds in berry smoothies and porridge (they won’t taste it).

Always have a snack to hand: a difficulty with healthy eating habits is when your children see other children eating something and they want the same. It can be anything from a hot dog to sweets. We learned early on to always carry a snack or fruit with us, so we can offer her that instead. If you look into Elsa’s backpack you will probably always find a hard boiled egg, a carrot, a piece of fruit or some quinoa, cauliflower and ramsons cakes.

Keep calm: if you see your child with a cookie, don’t get hysterical and grab it from them as it will have the opposite effect. It’s only food and it is important to develop a natural relationship with unhealthy food too.

Encourage eating: we have been very laid-back about table manners. As long as she eats, we don’t mind if it’s with a fork, a spoon, a chopstick, a straw or her hands (soup can get pretty messy). The good part is that she eats (almost) anything that we put in front of her. If you set up too many rules around eating you will probably end up with a food strike.

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