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Dealing With Fussy Eaters

I am sure majority of you have had an encounter with the ‘Fussy Eater’, which has left you feeling frustrated, upset and stressed. Whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner, you have taken the time out of your day to prepare a delicious and nutritious meal which you know will give your kids all the nutrients and energy they need, yet you are left feeling heart broken and frustrated when they reject this meal even to the point of not even trying it! You start to think, “what is the point” and “why do I bother”. Each mealtime becomes stressful and less enjoyable for you and your children.Children learn by testing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. They can be very strong willed when it comes to making decisions about food (to eat or not to eat, and what to eat). It’s all part of their social, intellectual and emotional development.With our time being so precious and valuable, if your children aren’t going to even take the time to try the food that you are preparing, you start to offer them less nutritious options such as sugar laden cereal for breakfast, packaged foods for lunch and then fast food take away options for dinner because you know that it will get eaten. However without realising it, the food that we give our children can have a significant impact on their mood, energy and even ability to concentrate. Our children’s lives are so busy with their full days of school, extra-curricular activities after school and then social events and sporting games on the weekend, we need to fuel them correctly to be able to handle it all.

1. Model behaviour – Encourage healthy eating in your children by eating this way yourself. Children tend to mimic what we do, so if they see their parents eating vegetables such as broccoli and pumpkin with their meal, they will be more inclined to give that food a go. Where possible, share your meal.

2. Be sneaky – If your children do not eat a range of vegetables, pureeing soups or adding grated veggies to dishes such as Bolognese sauce, meatballs, burgers or casseroles are a great way to incorporate more vegetables into their meals. Smoothies are also a good way to incorporate different fruits and vegetables. Make a smoothie that turns out to be the colour that your child loves.

3. Encourage taste testing – Have 2 plates of food. Plate 1 has the food you know that your children are going to enjoy eating and Plate 2 has three different foods cut up into very small pieces that you would like them to try. The child takes alternating mouthfuls from each plate. If there is a food on Plate 2 that is too horrible for your child to contemplate, then there is always another option for them on that plate.

4. Take a relaxed approach – Setting expectations too high at mealtimes usually creates a more stressful experience for all. Make meal times a happy social occasion. Try not to worry about the spilt drink on the floor, or the food falling off the plate. Instead praise your child for trying new foods.

5. Make the food look attractive, make the plate colourful and cut the food into different shapes and sizes.

6. Avoid unhealthy foods – it’s very tempting to offer your child food treats just so she ‘eats something’. But if you offer fatty, sugary or salty snacks as substitutes, your child might start refusing healthier foods – after all, they’ll know there are tastier options!

7. Give your child some independence with their food – Get your child involved in preparing meals. They will feel proud and more inclined to try something that they have made. You can also try letting your child making choices within a range of healthier food options.

8. Ignore unwanted behaviour – If a child refuses to eat (or constantly spits out their food, or carries on with any bad behaviour) and receives attention for it, the end result is that they will continue to use the unwanted behaviour to get more attention. So, in these instances sometimes the best thing you can do is to ignore it.

9. Set regular meal times – On average a child needs to eat every 2.5-3 hours, so if they graze throughout the day and eat within 2-2.5 hours of a meal, it will take the edge off their hunger and they may be less likely to eat at mealtime. If they don’t eat at a particular meal time, take the plate away and make them wait until the next meal or snack time rather then allowing them to continue coming back and grazing off the plate.

10. Don’t give up – Fussy eaters can wear you down, but on average it takes 10 times for a child to try a particular food and get positive reinforcement.

So if you are dealing with a fussy eater, I hope you will find it comforting to know that you are not the only one that is experiencing these battles and keep in mind that it’s just a stage and IT WILL PASS!​

Some Truths about Dairy

As a female, I have always been told that it is extremely important for me to eat 2-3 serves of dairy a day in order to prevent getting Osteoporosis in the future. Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of either hormonal changes or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D.However, when I had a bone density scan done a few years ago and it showed signs of thinning in the bones of my lower back, I was completely taken aback since dairy had always been an integral part of my diet, along with resistance-based exercises (another good preventative measure to take).I immediately started asking myself why this was happening if I was doing all the ‘right’ things to prevent Osteoporosis, so I started to do research into the effects of dairy and I was shocked by some of the findings. I want to share these findings with you.

Dairy is comprised of 87% Casein. There are many studies that have strongly and consistently linked Casein with the development of cancer. Casein requires the enzyme lactase to break it down properly, and with more people becoming lactose intolerant, this results in the Casein coagulating in the stomach making it difficult for your body to digest. It ends up fermenting and can potentially lead to toxicity. Casein is actually such a strong binder that it has been used as an ingredient in some wood glues!!Further to this, dairy is one of the most mucus-forming foods there is. Excessive mucus can begin to harden and build up along the walls of your intestines, adding to a build up of sludge, which slows down the food passing through the intestinal tract and therefore potentially leading to increased inflammation and toxicity in your blood.There is some Casein present in human milk (20%-45%), which we are obviously encouraged to breastfeed our children at birth, but the level of Casein found in cow’s milk is 300% higher, to help the calves develop much larger bones. This is why there is the theory that we shouldn’t drink the milk of other species.Looking at the relationship of dairy and calcium, cow’s milk does in fact have a lot of calcium in it, but much of the calcium in cow’s milk is not easily absorbed by the body. There is a lot of phosphorus in dairy products, which binds to the calcium in your digestive tract and makes most of the calcium impossible to absorb. The body actually absorbs the calcium found in dark, leafy green vegetables, sea vegetables, nuts and seeds far more easily.There is also a strong relationship between dairy and increased acidity in the body. Consuming large amounts of dairy increases the acidic load in the body, and in order for the body to overcome this and attempt to neutralise the acidity, calcium is extracted from your bones, as it is an alkalising mineral.So after doing all this research, I came to the conclusion that it was probably better for my health to completely eliminate dairy from my diet and get my RDI of calcium from the other sources as described above.Fast-forward a couple of years, and a follow up bone density scan has shown that my previous bone thinning has been rectified. I thank this to the ongoing resistance-based exercises I do, removing dairy from diet and also including Vitamin D supplements in my daily routine.

Beating the Winter Blues

I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t enjoy the months of May – September with the cooler temperatures and that biting chill in the air. We associate illnesses with these months, and with the additional stresses of our busy lives our immune system gets compromised, leading to many of us experiencing some sort of a cold, cough or sniffle during this time.Although we would like to, we cannot escape most of what we are exposed to, therefore maintaining good health over the winter season is critical. There are many ways we can support our health during these colder months and strengthen our body’s response to the cooler weather. Basic needs such as sleep, good nutrients, hydration, stress management, keeping active and having exposure to sunlight are all imperative to be able to keep those winter illnesses away.While most of us turn to over-the-counter medications to try and beat these illnesses, there is no purer ‘medicine’ than eating food rich in nutrients to strengthen and support our immune system, which will keep these bugs away. Over 70% of your immune system resides in your gut, and what you eat forms the foundation of your health. Therefore if it’s not supported with the right foods, it becomes susceptible to illness and disease.When it comes to our immune system, the major nutrients that will assist it in performing at its best are: Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin E, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Omega 3, Ginger, and Probiotics.Below outlines the ways we can get each of these through natural sources.

Vitamin C is used by the body to protect us when an infection enters the body and its anti-oxidant activity helps prevent inflammation and damage by bacteria and viruses. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons but is also present in capsicum, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Kiwi fruit, strawberries and potatoes.Zinc acts as an anti-oxidant which not only strengthens our immune system but can also shorten the duration of a cold. Zinc is found mostly in red meat and poultry, so zinc supplements may be something you need to consider if you are a vegetarian/vegan or just don’t eat these foods regularly.Foods rich in Vitamin E have anti-oxidants which help boosts the body’s defence against bacteria, viruses and cancer cells. Some examples are nuts, seeds, whole grains and green leafy vegetables.As I was growing up there was nothing more comforting then a bowl of chicken soup when I wasn’t feeling well and I could not agree more that bone broths are a great inclusion in your daily diet. They are full of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and amino acids which support our adrenal health, nervous system and immune system.Oily fish rich in Omega 3 such as wild salmon, herring, and anchovies all help kick-start your immune system by reducing harmful inflammation in your body.Ginger is a powerful anti-viral herb that helps the body get rid of toxins, stimulate circulation and boost your immune system. Ginger can be enjoyed in your juices, your cooking and even as simple as sipping on a lemon and ginger tea.Probiotics are essential in the fight to prevent infection. Probiotics increase the balance of ‘good’ to ‘bad’ bacteria in our gut which helps to keep our gut healthy and boost our immune system to guard us against colds. Probiotics can be taken in the form of a supplement or are rich in foods such as sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, Kefir and Kombucha.By adding the foods listed above into your weekly diet, you can properly support your immune system to hopefully get through this winter without those winter blues.

Achieving Ultimate Beauty

Beauty is something that is deep, lasting and grows from the inside out. Looking beautiful on the outside is a reflection of our internal health, and we require ongoing care and cleansing to keep our vibrant beauty. When your cells, organs and blood are clean, your body is able to function optimally and you are able to achieve your beauty and weight loss goals.So how to we get to this position? Achieving our optimal beauty is tightly linked to the alkaline-acid principle. This principle takes us back to our school days where we learnt about pH in science lessons. The pH scale ranges from totally acidic at 0.0 to totally alkaline at 14.0, making 7.0 neutral. For the human body, the ideal blood pH is 7.365 and it must stay within a tight range for us to maintain optimal health. In order to make ourselves the healthiest, most youthful and most beautiful we can be, we must support our body’s effort to stay at its perfect, slightly alkaline pH. We must make changes to our diet and become conscious of which foods leave an alkaline residue and which foods leave an acidic residue in our body. Maintaining the balance of alkalinity and acidity in our bodies and tissues is one of the most important roles of nutrition. An overly acidic body greatly diminishes our beauty, and really who wants that??? Excess acidity can be a major contributing cause of premature ageing, along with premature lines and wrinkles; acne, dark under-eye circles; limp, bodiless or otherwise unhealthy hair; and brittle nails. You may ask: “But how does the food we eat impact on this alkaline-acid principle and therefore what changes can we make?” All foods leave either an alkaline or acidic residue in the bloodstream due to whether they contain more alkaline or more acidic minerals. What is important for our health and beauty is the way foods break down in our body and the residue that foods leave. For example, limes and lemons add an ‘acidic’ balance to a recipe, but when digested, they leave an alkaline residue in our bodies, however dairy milk in isolation has an alkaline pH, but when it is digested it leaves an extremely acidic residue in the body. So in order to stay in alkaline state we must become conscious of which foods leave an alkaline residue and which foods leave an acidic residue in our body. Here’s a simple table for you to use as a guide:

Very Alkaline Foods

Very Acidic Foods

Ripe Fruits

Alcohol

Greens

Animal Protein

Sprouts

Artificial Sweeteners

Other Vegetables (excluding starchy vegetables)

Caffeine

Dairy Products

Drugs, such as antibiotics/steroids

Nicotine

Refined Sugar

Sodas

The more alkaline foods you can introduce into your diet, the more your body will be prepped to promote health, beauty and longevity and be able to fight disease, toxaemia and ageing.

Key Tips When Eating Out

Eating out has always been something I have enjoyed. I have many fond memories, especially from when my father was still alive, of going to restaurants and eating beautifully prepared food.Since changing my style of eating to be more clean and healthy, I get asked all the time whether I still eat out. Thankfully I am able to answer YES! There are so many restaurants now that cater for clean eating that it has really made this transition so easy. Some of my favourite places include Feast of Merit, Tokyo Tina, Ten Greek Plates, Zurouna, Foxes Den, Miss Ruben, Naked Chicks and the list goes on and on…. Restaurants are becoming more accustomed to customers needing to make changes and substitutions to their menu and the majority of the time they are extremely accommodating. Going out for meals is a great way to catch up with friends, and not something you should give up if you have switched to a clean eating lifestyle.Here are my key tips for eating cleanly when eating out:

1. Don’t go out on an empty stomach. Have a small snack and a big glass of water about 30 minutes before you go out, so that when you get to the restaurant you won’t be starving, and end up ordering too much food. If you are going out for breakfast, perhaps have a piece of fruit or a couple of tablespoons of yoghurt with a handful of almonds before you leave. Before heading out for dinner, have some vegetable sticks with some dip or a small bowl of soup.2. Don’t forget to add your greens. Order a side salad as a starter. Not only will this help you control the amount that you eat but greens are also very alkalising therefore it will aid in the digestion of your meal.3. Order a healthier version. Don’t be afraid to ask the wait staff how your meal is going to be prepared (ie. cooked, fried, baked, roasted etc.) and ask for it to be changed to make it healthier.4. Dressings and sauces. Restaurants love to drown their foods (in a good way) with dressing and sauces. However, with this comes a lot of refined sugars, since most places will use sugar as a key ingredient in most dressings and sauces. To maintain the original flavour, ask for the dressing/sauce on the side so that you can moderate how much you consume. Or to eliminate it completely, simply ask for a basic alternative that will be sugar free.5. Be mindful of your portion size. It’s all about portion control. You don’t have to say goodbye to the foods that you love, but being mindful about your portion size will allow you to continue to enjoy the foods that you love whilst maintaining your weight. Order two entrée meals or share a main to help keep you on track.6. Eat mindfully and enjoy your meal. The part about going out that is most enjoyable is the different textures, flavours and smells. Ensure that you savour the moment, chew each mouthful thoroughly and take breaks, put your utensils down in between mouthfuls.7. Don’t go overboard with alcohol. It can be easy to get carried away with the amount of alcohol that you drink while on a night out, however it has no nutritional value and is just empty calories. You can still enjoy your alcohol, but limit yourself to 1, or at the most 2, drinks. Your body will thank you the next morning.Remember that eating cleanly is also about balance, and the 80/20 rule is one that comes in to play here. You can still go out and enjoy yourself, and the above tips are a guide to help you monitor what you eat.

Overcoming Those Sugar Cravings

Sugar and its impact on your health would definitely be one of the hottest topics within the health industry. With obesity and chronic disease rates growing dramatically, the link between sugar consumption and this is more evident.As a parent I have always been concerned about the potential risk of my children becoming hooked on alcohol, drugs or cigarettes, but it has never been considered that sugar is as much of a damaging ‘drug’ that you can easily get hooked onto. There are many programs available to assist you in overcoming certain addictions, but what about sugar?

Sugar is everywhere. It is called several different names and therefore you probably wouldn’t even recognise that foods you are consuming are filled with this drug. It is no surprise that there are many times during the day when you are felling a little tired or sluggish that your ‘go to’ food will be something sweet to give you that pick me up.Reducing the amount of sugar you consume could potentially be life saving. Here are 8 of my top tips to help you eliminate sugar from your diet.1. Eat regularly. Eat three meals and two snacks or five small meals a day. For many people, if they don’t eat regularly, their blood sugar levels drop, they feel hungry and are more likely to crave sweet sugary snacks.2. Choose whole foods. The closer a food is to its original form, the less processed sugar it will contain. 3. Include protein and/or fat with each meal. This helps control blood sugar levels, keeps you satisfied and fuller for longer. Make sure they are healthy sources of each and moderate amounts.4. Move your body. Whatever movement you enjoy, whether it be walking, running, gym or yoga, will help reduce tension, boost your energy and decrease your need for a sugar lift.5. Get enoughsleep. When we are tired we often use sugar for energy to counteract the exhaustion.6. Don’t substitute artificial sweeteners for sugar. This will do little to alter your desire for sweets as your body recognises the artificial sweetener as sugar. If you do need a sweetener, try Stevia, it’s the most natural.7. Drink lots of water. Sometimes drinking water can help with the sugar cravings. Also sometimes what we perceive as a food craving is really thirst.8. Keep sugary snacks out of your house and office. It’s difficult to snack on things that aren’t there! Have alternatives such as veggies, fruit, yoghurt and almonds.

Eating Seasonally for Autumn

Autumn is a time of abundance when it comes to fresh produce. I love the flavours of it: apples, lemons, bananas, figs, grapes, kiwifruit, asparagus, beetroot, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, eggplant, tomatoes, pumpkins and zucchini. Because there is such a copious amount of fresh fruits and vegetables available, it’s easy to cook and create a variety of different meals that are full of flavour.

Foods taste better when they are in season, and they also have the most nutritional benefit at this time. Knowing what fruits and vegetables can be sourced locally is a great way to keep track of this, so eating watermelon during the winter months is not an ideal option (for example). If you’re not sure what is in season, spend a weekend day walking through your local farmer’s market to see what produce is available.It is very important to listen to what our body is telling us, and often the body craves foods that balance out the elements of the season. For example, in summer people crave cooling foods like fruit, raw vegetables and ice cream. Conversely, in winter our body craves hot and heat-producing foods like soups, stews and meat.With autumn comes rich, healthy, nutritious, comforting soups. Here is a recipe of one of my favourites.Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup

Ingredients:16 Roma Tomatoes, cut in half lengthways2 onions, cut in half lengthways1 head of garlic, roasted1-2 tablespoons olive oilSalt & Pepper to taste2 teaspoons paprika2 teaspoons mixed Italian herbs1 tablespoon maple syrup2.5 cups water or vegetable stock1 cup light coconut milkMethod:Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.Cut onions and tomatoes in half lengthways and place on parchment-lined tray. Cut the top of the garlic head in order to expose the majority of the garlic whilst it remains in tact.Drizzle onions, tomatoes and garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper.Roast in oven for approximately 60 mins.Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.Place in blender the roasted tomatoes (with their juices), onions, 8 roasted garlic cloves and all other ingredients. Blend until smooth and creamy.Serves 6

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