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How to get the kids eating healthy!

Dan Davis for | February 17, 2011

Iím a huge fan of anyoneís valiant efforts to get our kids eating healthier. Its no secret that the nations young are getting bigger, are less active and are more at risk of preventable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke than ever before. But in addition to the strong efforts, it is my honest opinion that we need to step one generation back and lead by example.

I have raised my son as a single dad for nearly eight years, since before he turned one. Through one reason or another I piled on an extra life threatening 60 kilos reaching a peak of about 165 kilos. My own diet was a gluttonous mix of take away and convenience food, from gas stations and mini marts. But in all the time I was eating chinese take out banquets for two on my own or family sized slabs of ready meal lasagna, with a side order of roasted potato and garlic bread, I would do my best to make sure my baby son was eating as best as I could. When I stop and think about these times, I realise that I, as any decent father will do, was putting my sonís wellbeing before mine. But heres the reasoning that woke me up to making the life changes that bring me here today. If Iíd carried on the way I was going, which I have no doubt was an early death, I wouldnít be around to care for my boy in any case. In fact, it was his comparison of me to a fat insect on a disney film that shocked me into taking my life back. He actually asked me when he would get a belly like mine. So there is my point. We lead by example, and if done early enough, we can install these examples into a permanent lifestyle.

Iím not here to tell anyone theyíre doing anything wrong. What Iíd like to be able to do is tell you about some of the changes Iíve made, little ďtricksĒ Iíve used and recipes that my son and I follow together in our own kitchen, in hope that you find it useful. Iíll tell you of scenarios and situations that Iíve heard from other single parents. Some that are very common and some you may recognise yourselves. And iíll pass on the same advice I gave to these mumís and dadís too.

So where shall we start? I think the best sentence I can open up with is, donít make food an issue. By which I mean, avoid using food as a punishment. I remember so many times as a kid being told I wasnít allowed to leave the table until Iíd finished my greens, especially if iíd misbehaved that day. Itís hardly surprising that greens werenít high on my list of favorites if I only had to finish them when Iíd been bad. The same can be said for using food as a treat constantly. Iím not saying that we canít give the odd surprise now and then, but if constant, it seems to install a routine. And when you donít treat with food, our kids might start to think they havenít behaved well enough or maybe worse start to associate sweets and treats with love. Insisting on cleaning their plate before leaving the table, Iíve heard this a lot. Quote from article ďMy son doesnít ever finish his dinnerĒ. When I ask them to tell me what was on the plate, I realise that maybe Iíd even struggle to eat it all. Portion size is very important, it might take some fine tuning but you need to figure out how much your kids can actually eat. You can always give a little more if they polish it off, not too much mind, but rather this than constantly throwing food away and getting frustrated yourself. Lastly, get out of the habit of cooking two meals, one for you and one for the children. Eating the same as each other encourages a wider variety of foods to both adults and kids alike, and also may push the youngsters to try new things. This is where a star or reward chart really comes into its own. Iíll explain more about this next time.

Hereís a very simple recipe, if you can even call this one a recipe. Fruit kebabs make a simple desert or snack. Thread chunks of apple, pineapple, mango, red grapes and kiwi fruit onto some skewers and let the kids, or yourselves, dip them into plain natural yoghurt with a little honey stirred in. As well as being tasty, the kiwi is packed with vitamin C, the red grape skins are loaded with immunity boosting anti-oxidants, pineapple has compounds that aid digestion and inflammation from sinus problems and sore throats, mango contains nutrients important for skin, lung and gut health and apples are a great source of fibre and pectin to help keep a smooth and regular digestive path. All this plus a host of other important vitamins and minerals. Make them fresh and get the kids involved with making the kebabs up. Dan

go to the Natural Balance website

About the author...

Dan Davis is a Nutritional Therapist based in London and Kent in the UK and a member of the Expert Panel. To learn more about Dan, please go to his Biography page here

What does it mean to be a single mum?Of course, the


are the most important thing in a single mum's life. Kids are the focus and always have been. But along with the children, there are other matters that can confuse a single mum's life.


plays a big part of a single mother's life, mainly because this is where a large percentage of single mums get their finances from. Centrelink are the source from where the

single mother pension

, or as it is otherwise known, the single parent payment comes from. The single mother pension is a subsistence amount, but just the same, it is money to live on, and so it is important, no matter if it is called single parent payment, single mother pension or whatever Centrelink welfare classes it at the time

Often, single mums come out of a


or defacto relationship only to find that their troubles have just begun, and find that their first step leads them towards Family Law - it's time to engage a lawyer.
There are more than just Centrelink finance problems to worry about, as mentioned before, but also

child custody

issues. Child custody is something that hits right at the heart of

single mums

. If a single mother's ex husband or ex partner has been a domestic violence perpetrator, the mum may be greatly worried about child custody. They worry that their kids won't be safe with their spouse, who has already proven to be abusive because they caused

domestic violence

, which resulted in a divorce or separation.

Even so,

Family Court

will often still order a form of child custody named

Shared Parenting

. Shared Parenting is a form of child custody division of time or parental responsibility between the parents. Mother's often look for a good divorce lawyer to try to avoid share parenting with an abusive ex-spouse after divorce, however in many cases Shared Parenting is still the outcome after the divorce, no matter how good the divorce lawyers have been. They will often settle for visitation at a contact centre or access centre where fathers or mothers are supervised during child custody access.

Please remember the bigger font words,because we will use it often in our website.