Before mealtimes, make sure the environment (physical and emotional) is as stable and calm as can be. Eating should be an enjoyable experience :)
Watch over smaller children to ensure they are chewing their food properly- there are no sharp teeth or cutting tools inside the digestive tract. Large chunks of undigested food can get ‘stuck’ in the intestines and cause pain, gas and bloating. Be mindful if your child is repelling a particular food. Inherently we know what is good or bad for us and children are more in tune with this inbuilt knowledge. Don’t force them to eat anything they are averse to, they could be intolerant to it.
Breastfeeding: If your baby is having nothing other than breast milk but has digestive disturbances or seems unsettled all the time, consider checking for your OWN intolerances. Antibodies will travel through breastmilk. Also check for tongue or lip-tie.
Babies: There is no hard and fast rule about when to wean your baby. The average age is around 4 months. Foods eaten at this age are feeding the cells and influencing metabolic programming, immunity and long-term weight. Rice cereal mixed with breast milk (or formula), banana, pureed vegetables, cooked buckwheat groats are good introductory foods. Avoid honey and nuts as tiny digestive systems are not robust enough to digest these easily.
Infants and Toddlers: Good fats are very important at this development stage, so introduce avocado, coconut, butter, oily fish. Omega3 from fish is crucial for brain, behaviour, mood, skin and eye health. Use a good supplement if oily fish isn’t liked – look for high EPA & DHA content.
5 -11 year olds: Growth and energy is the focus here so a good mix of proteins and carbohydrates required for both. Roast dinners, spaghetti Bolognese, fish and rice are good examples. Homemade always best of course – try to resist packets and jars to avoid harmful additives and preservatives.
12 – early teens: Hormones! Zinc for your boys is paramount now. Good sources are oily fish and pumpkin seeds, but a supplement would be beneficial (around 25mg a day) whilst girls need iodine for hormonal balance, together with iron. Spirulina, kelp, seaweed etc.are very beneficial and can be included with a variety of meals, gravies, sauces and smoothies.