Dr Clare Bailey is a mother of four and wife of diet expert Dr Michael Mosley. She’s shared with us her top tips on how to ensure the whole family remains healthy and ways to get the little ones to enjoy their vegetables.
Dr Bailey says: “Food can boost your immune system, give you energy and even impact your mood. Eating well will help you and your family stay healthy. I hope these tips and quick, tasty recipes help provide some inspiration.”
Boost their mood
It can be really hard to keep kids away from sweet and processed food. However, there is increasing evidence of a link between children’s diet and mental health issues, the majority of which emerge before adulthood.
Kids who eat a lot of takeaways and processed foods are more likely to act up as well as suffering from anxiety and low mood. Research from the Food and Mood Centre Australia also found that those who improved their diet showed improvement in their mental health.
By eating together as a family, you significantly increase the likelihood that children will eat nutritious food. And with time, this becomes a habit. Children copy what you do. So, show them you are enjoying what you are eating. Encourage children to try new things, but avoid making it a battle. It helps if you can celebrate an atmosphere of curiosity and enjoyment in tasting interesting new foods and textures.
Get children involved in the cooking process while also eating the Mediterranean way. This is well known to enhance mood and reduces anxiety – not just because it supports your microbiome, which can improve mood, but also through the simple process of getting together as a family.
There is no doubt about the Mediterranean-style diet being the healthiest on the planet – it is packed with mood-boosting ingredients and is tasty for children too. Oily fish, beans, lentils, veg and fruit, are all good foods to include. These Med Style Portobello Pizzas are a healthy (and child approved) take on the classic.
Feeling hungry is one of the most powerful stressors, but as a mother of three boys and one daughter (now young adults), I know growing children seem to have bottomless stomachs. There are a few tactics I recommend to ensure children feel full.
- ‘Good’ fats – rich in mono-and polyunsaturates – powerfully curb the appetite, slowing the rate at which the stomach empties and so delaying the point at which it signals for more food. To feel fuller for longer, try meals with plenty of olive oil, oily fish and (in moderation) full-fat dairy products. Nutritious fat and fibre rich nuts make an excellent snack for peckish kids.
- Fibre induces the release of a chemical called “PYY” which reduces appetite. To feel fuller for longer, try fresh vegetables (especially greens), unprocessed grains and legumes.
- Eating protein with your first meal of the day also reduces cravings. An omelette with veggies or yoghurt with nuts is tasty options for children and adults alike!
For children with an ‘aversion’ to vegetables, it is possible to make a veggie-packed topping for wholemeal pasta by roasting a wide variety, blitzing them and hiding them in a tomato sauce. You can do this with beans and lentils too.
Kids also love dips, so why not give each an individual jar filled with sticks of raw vegetables for them to dip into hummus made by chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste, lemon juice and olive oil? Try slices of a tricolour of peppers; carrot batons; celery sticks; or florets of cauliflower, and because they are fibrous too, they will make them feel fuller between meals.
Fermented foods like kefir, miso paste, kombucha and sauerkraut all help strengthen the good bacteria in the gut, helping to improve immunity, help us sleep better and even improve your mood – perfect for grumpy teenagers! You may be surprised that your child can develop a taste for new foods, so don’t preempt their reaction!
My husband, Dr Michael Mosley and I have got into the habit of adding sauerkraut or pickled red cabbage to our meals every day, topping our scrambled eggs with kimchi, adding purple sauerkraut to a soup or sauerkraut to salmon. We both love the slightly sweet, salty tang these fermented foods add to the food. What’s more, it’s cheap and easy to make – all you need is a crunchy vegetable, diced, salt and a jar with a well-fitting lid.
See LINK for video and instructions on how to do it. It’s a great recipe to make with bored kids. My six-year-old nephew loves it and makes it himself, nurturing it. He even enjoys eating it in moderation.
Despite mine and Michael’s focus on healthy food, as teenagers, my kids would themselves happily fill up on crisps and fizzy drinks. It helps to stick to a shopping list to avoid putting temptations into the basket. If there are no biscuits or crisps in the cupboard… there can be no arguments. Instead, try cooking my kidney bean chocolate cake; it’s a delicious way to hide fibre. Cut it into squares and offer this as a sweet treat (and freeze the rest). You can also make your own crisps using shavings of root vegetables which you can roast in the oven with olive oil.
Dr Claire Bailey – Where and how?
Visit www.thefast800.com for more information. Clare has also been sharing easy healthy store cupboard foods which can be seen at Instagram.com/drclarebailey.
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