Kids are in school for most of their day, 180 days a year and 1/3 of their day. That is really their "job" for many years of their life. Homeschool kids, for the most part, have to "attend" the same amount of days but may spend fewer hours per day doing school work. Giving all kids proper nutrition that fuels their body for learning, energy and helping them stay well is important. As parents, we can give them foods that fuel cognition, focus and memory.
Whether your kids go to public school, or learn at home, we often need some quick and nutritious meals to put on the table each morning and need attractive ideas for lunch too! This post will be divided into two parts so I can cover this subject a little more in depth.
In addition to the foods I will mention, I suggest a good quality Omega Fatty Acid supplement, and minerals like calcium, magnesium and zinc. There are studies which show that deficiencies in these nutrients can effect learning and behavior. Check out the info about these supplements and learning here and here
But really, One of the most important things, I really can't stress it enough, is to NOT let your child go without breakfast. You simply can't argue with the benefits of a good breakfast every day before your child sets out for a day filled with learning, stress, physical activity and more! This study by the National Institutes of Health backs up the benefits of a good breakfast every morning before sending your student off to learn! This is also important for the child who learns at home as well.
So, what should you feed your child, or children, for breakfast? I'm glad you asked, there are several tasty options!
~Oatmeal is a great choice for a good start to the day. It contains plenty of fiber which promotes good gut health. It also digests slowly and does contain some protein. Protein is necessary for growth and energy. I add an extra boost of protein to my kid's oatmeal with Young Living Essential Oils Pure Protein Complete. It comes in two delicious flavors: Vanilla Spice and Chocolate. My kids love both of these! (It also makes a great quick breakfast for me too!) We love to use our Thieves or Cinnamon Vitality Essential Oils in our Oatmeal too; It is so delicious! You can learn more about the nutrition content of Pure Protein Complete here
~Eggs are another great choice for that first meal of the day. They contain choline which is essential in helping your child's brain make acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter for memory recall. Eggs are also rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, plus Vitamins B-12 and D which are imperative for cognitive power! Serve up a couple of eggs the way your child likes them best along with some whole grain, sprouted bread (or a gluten free bread) topped with a nut butter and your child is ready for the day!
~Smoothies are a fast way to get some excellent nutrition and make it easy for the body to assimilate those nutrients. You can mix and go! Be sure to include a good quality protein powder (Like the Pure Protein Complete) and you can add other options like fruits and veggies for even more nutritional boosting! Smoothies make it easy to hide some nutrient dense foods like spinach, kale, beets, chard and other greens.
~Protein Packed Pancakes or Muffins are another fast, on the go breakfast option. You can make these ahead of time in a big batch, then freeze for later. Here's a recipe using the Pure Protein Complete Vanilla Spice for some yummy pancakes!
2 scoops Pure Protein Complete Vanilla Spice
1 large, very ripe banana, mashed
1/8 tsp Cinnamon, or 2 drops Cinnamon Bark Vitality Essential Oil
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Large Eggs
So, barring any serious complications, what can you do about picky eating?
Well, here is where I will list a few tips and ideas in hopes to help you tackle this all to common issue moms face these days.
1. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water! What I mean by this is don't get frustrated and just throw out everything your child likes and only have new foods that you know he/she won't eat. Start with ONE thing you'd like your child to consume and offer a variety of ways to enjoy it. **Extra: Give them 3 choices. Make them visual. Show a picture of Broccoli, Green Beans and Red Pepper. Let them choose one to try. Then talk about all the ways you can eat it and ask them which sounds good to them!
2. Be the change you want to see! If you want your child to eat healthier foods, then you have to set the example. If you are eating Cheetos, while telling them to eat carrots, or bell pepper slices.. well, this won't go over very well and creates a lot of confusion for the child as well. Love yourself enough to eat healthy too!
3. Involve your child in the meal planning and preparation! Kids LOVE to do this and it makes them feel part of something too! They are actively contributing to the family and helping to make some decisions which will empower them later in life when going out on their own and becoming parents themselves.
4. Talk about the importance of good nutrition and why we need to eat healthier. Make it age appropriate and simple for younger children. Watch some healthy cooking shows together to get ideas and listen to what your child says and what excites them when they SEE something prepared.
5. Make it fun! Put snacks in cupcake tins like the picture or in divided plates or other containers. Offer different healthy dipping options like hummus, baba ganoush, ranch, olive oil with spices, nut butters, tzatziki or home made ketchup.
I hope these tips are helpful! I'd love for you to let me know in the comments or share some tips that have worked for you and your picky eater! Blessings!
There are some deficiencies which can contribute to picky eating and even some sensory issues as well. So, before we go into some solutions I want to mention these and you can consult with a functional medicine or naturopathic doctor to address the possibility of a mineral or vitamin deficiency contributing to your child's lack of enthusiasm for veggies, meats or other nutritious offerings.
We have between 2000-8000 taste buds on our tongues and they are composed of 50-150 taste receptor cells that are clustered together. They identify the different tastes we encounter: salty, sweet, bitter, sour along with the strong taste of aged meats or cheese, this is called Umami. If these taste bud receptors are imbalanced then it can make certain foods less or more appealing. We want a variability in the number of taste buds so that we enjoy a wide variety of tastes.
Our sense of smell also contributes to our sense of taste. The two are very closely connected. The smell and taste buds belong to chemosensation, our chemical sensing system. Taste receptor and olfactory cells transmit message via neurons to the brain where smells and tastes are identified. If there is malfunction in the transmission of this signal then it can effect how food feels, smells and tastes. Amino acid deficiencies, ion abnormalities, cell membrane abnormalities, blockage of impulse transmission and cellular energy can effect these neurons. You need someone with a detailed understanding of the neurotransmitter system to help diagnose a problem, along with what to do to address the issue.
What is important to note about the neurons is that they depend on cellular energy for their function and this cycle requires minerals, B vitamins, COQ10, glutathione, NADPH and FADH to function properly. Zinc, in particular, is tied to taste changes and loss of appetite. This process is also very susceptible to heavy metal toxicity from aluminum, flouride, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and antimony. Variance levels of sodium, potassium, calcium or magnesium can effect neuron transmission as well.
The complex interaction of sensory and muscular systems can create issues effecting eating as well. A properly trained and compassionate Occupational Therapist with a specialty in feeding issues can help address sensory issues that your child may be having regarding eating. Once you get these two systems working together, many times those picky habits start to vanish. Speech and Sensory Integrative therapist can also be of help in this area. Come back next week for some simple solutions!
Help~~~ My child is a picky eater!!!
Mamas, this is not "normal". We have accepted it as such, but it's not how it is SUPPOSED to be for our children, or ourselves. Modern food conveniences have pushed us towards non food choices which, in my opinion, have basically altered our taste buds and not for the better. This is just my personal observation from having switched from frozen, canned and processed foods to whole, natural and organic foods; I can not eat the stuff I used to eat, my taste buds can detect the chemicals and it does not taste like the food I have come to love and crave.
Ok, so back to our kids! I say this next part with a LOT of love, compassion and understanding because I was once where you are: I had kids who wouldn't eat many veggies and lived on a steady diet of chicken nuggets, macaroni & cheese, ketchup and cereal. I get where you are right now.
I think we, as a society, have put some of this picky eating on ourselves, or rather on our children having strayed very far away from the way our grandmothers used to feed us and their mothers before them and so on. We have bought into the lie that convenience is better, or that it is needed when we really need to just slow down and give some thought to what really matters in life, which is our health, well being and family. It's been such a gradual change that we have hardly noticed, but we now have kids who are, by percentage, more overweight, diabetic and chronically ill at a rate that we can hardly keep up with, let alone manage. Our kids our sick.
We have the power to change it. It's right in our grocery stores! Easy access and easy to prepare. Food does not have to fancy or look like a picture from a magazine to taste good. It really just needs to good FOR us and for our kids too. Oh, one more thing to consider, and I am SO guilty of this myself, but too much snacking of carb heavy foods is contributing to that dinner time struggle to get our precious offspring to eat a nutritious meal. I've learned to cut back and offer small snacks of fruit or veggies but NOT after 3:00 p.m. I want my little darlings HUNGRY by 6/6:30.
There are some deficiencies which can contribute to picky eating and even some sensory issues with eating. Come back next week for Part 2 to learn more!