*This post is based on personal experience, for information purposes, and the views are my own. Always seek professional advice from a health care provider for your health needs.
My son has been attending sports clubs, and my boyfriend and I have been walking more outdoors, around the lakes.
We find that being outside with nature is mentally healing and good for our mental health, as well as beneficial to our physical health.
I will be encouraging myself and my son to walk short distances more often opposed to me using my car. I admit that I have got into this unhealthy habit of using my car too often. A contradiction of my childhood as my parents didn’t drive until I was an adult, so we walked everywhere.
Food and Nutrition
I have an interest in food, and culinary arts, which started from childhood. I watched my mum make homecooked meals from scratch. My dad also took my brother and me to our local butchers, the market and fishmonger.
Growing up, I saw how fruits and vegetables are grown with my dad gardening. (I had a pear tree too).
Fast forward to university, one module that I studied was food studies where I learnt about food nutrition, development and health. I even based my dissertation on healthy eating and health initiatives.
For my son, I want him to learn about food nutrition and develop a healthy relationship with food. I want him to be able to enjoy the creative side of cooking, gain valuable life skills and understand the food process. (how our food ends up looking the way it does in the supermarket)
He has already expanded his palate and has adapted to new flavours without being overstimulated. He used to dislike the wetness of food and mess of eating when he was younger. I am incredibly lucky that he now has a varied choice and is quite flexible with food.
Our smell and taste senses are connected, and if you are sensory seeking or avoiding, then this has an impact on your sensory experience with food. I will be exploring this topic and my son’s food preferences in another post.
The age that my son is at is very, let’s say interesting. He is establishing his own food choices, and now in his mind has perceived me as controlling what he eats because he does not eat as much fast food as he would like at home.
Another example of when he has been not best pleased with me is when his school had a party and asked children to bring in party food. I packed a healthy option for him to take in; however, not everyone did the same. (Ever since he has been suspicious of me).
I then realised that I had to change my approach with him. (so that he can see that I am encouraging him to make healthy food choices and not forcing him to eat a certain way). I have been getting other family members involved, and my boyfriend to cook with him, not just me.
My current concern is him binge eating foods high in salt, and sugar, therefore, in addition to what I am putting in practice, I have been looking at local support programmes.
I can’t be a hypocrite either as I do eat fast food, so I have to practice what I preach. As long as the majority of what we eat is nutritious and that the saturated foods that we eat are all in moderation, then I am happy with that. We want to achieve this realistically, using the Eatwell Guide.
To promote healthy eating, I will consciously stop calling our occasional Friday night takeaway, a treat. I am unknowingly allowing my son to grow up associating the word “treat” with highly saturated foods. I don’t want him to make this psychological connection, so I’ve started calling a fruit salad a treat instead.
Healthy eating needs to be done correctly, especially with children, to ensure that they are getting the essential vitamins and minerals their body needs.
My son does love his salads too, and he does have a high expectation of what goes in it. When my boyfriend made one for him once, he told him that he makes a boring salad. Furthermore, believe it or not, but his favourite vegetable is broccoli, and his favourite fruit is raspberries.
He likes courgettes (zucchinis) now, which is good, as they are great for absorbing lots of flavours. I have also been cooking stews so that I can add as many vegetables as possible.
We want to do healthy eating affordably, and that involves meal planning. I am very resourceful when it comes to food as I like to reduce waste. Funny story, when I was younger, my mum ate a meal and left aside one king prawn. I then told her that she had to eat it otherwise that prawn died for nothing. In the end, she ate it.
When I’m making curries, I am now exchanging cream for yoghurt and looking for other healthier alternatives.
My son has been making his fruit salad, which involves skills of having attention to detail, being creative, maths and science skills as well as reading comprehension.
He has also helped out at dinner time by mashing the potatoes. (heavy work, getting sensory input).
While I am cooking, I show him what I am doing and explain to him the process, so he sees what goes on to create a meal.
I have invested a lot of time to educate my son about food. Taking him to shops during quieter periods to show him the traffic light system on food packaging so that he can see how much salt, sugar and fats are in foods.
We are also interested in cooking in season and shopping local for produce.
I have big plans to create recipe cards of my son’s favourite dishes in a way that he can interpret the information.
We will be exploring different spices and seasonings, showing him how to get the optimal flavour in healthy cooking.