Eat Like an Eco-Warrior

Today more than ever we are more aware of our impact on the Earth and the eco-friendly movement has well and truly taken off.

We know that what we eat has a huge effect on our planet from deforestation of rainforests- the lungs of our Earth, to carbon emissions made from the production, processing and transport of our food, the use of chemicals to grow food and last but not least all the food and packaging wastage along the way.

Sometimes it can be hard to know where one is to start to even try to make a dent in the big problems of our food system.

As eating a healthy diet is actually better for the planet and your health this can be the best place to start. 

1.  Stick to the 5 core food groups: These healthy foods have protective effects against heart disease, overweight, diabetes and some cancers. 

·                    Wholegrains

·                    Fruit (Go for 2 a day)

·                    Vegetables (Go for 5 a day)

·                    Iron rich protein foods: eggs, legumes (beans, lentils), fish, seafood, nuts, seeds, tofu (limit to 1-2 serves per day) lean meat, poultry.

·                    Calcium rich protein foods: Low fat dairy products, soy alternatives, fish with bones. (Aim for 2-3 serves per day) 

2.  Cut down on those ‘Discretionary choices’ AKA ‘sometimes foods’ such as fried food, chips, sweet foods, chocolates, lollies, biscuits, pastries.  These are highly processed, often plastic packaged, nutrient poor and add to increasing risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  Is it a coincidence that these foods are not good for our environment and not good for our health?

Avoid impulse buying of highly processed over packaged ‘sometimes’ foods. Be prepared when leaving the house.

·                    Eat beforehand

·                    Take snack foods such as fruit, yoghurt, cheese and biscuits or nuts

·                    Pack lunch for work or school using re-usable containers

3. Fresh produce from the green grocer or farmer’s market are usually cheaper, fresher, hence more nutritious, taste better and lasts longer.

·                    Buy minimally processed and packaged foods and take your own green bags even for fruit, vegetables and bread or containers for meat/ deli items.

·                    Choose products with short ingredients lists. 

4.  Even Fresher! Cut out the transport between harvest and plate.

·                    Start a vegetable garden.  Easy ones to grow are tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, capsicum, silver beet and beans.

·                    Join your local community garden and produce swap group.

5.  Drink mainly tap water and reuse drink containers. 

Your body does not need the sugar, artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners found in processed beverages and the environment definitely does not need the carbon emissions from making all these extra ingredients or the plastic!

6. Get out and get active, turn off the screen and move!

Movement is protective against many of those chronic diseases, helps you relax, keeps you in a happy mood and also makes you sleep better!

·                    Limit the use of your car – walk or ride your bike.

·                    Go for a jog or stroll, enter and train for a fun run/walk.

·                    Give family gifts of adventure like kayaking, stand up paddleboard classes or walking tours.

Join me at the Central Coast Harvest Festival Eat Like an Eco-Warrior Workshop to learn more about eating better for the planet, how to make changes to your eating and become an advocate for making changes in our food system and community.

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Manic Mealtimes to Marvelous Mealtimes

A universal concern amongst parents is what their kids eat and how to get them to eat that healthy balanced diet.   Often it is difficult to know just how much kids need to eat as their appetites change from day to day or week to week and their food preferences can also annoyingly change all of a sudden too.  Sometimes we want that overnight quick fix but in reality it just takes time, patience and perseverance.  Here are a few strategies focus on to keep your sanity and help them on their healthy way.

Consider the whole diet

-          Think about their eating over the whole day or week rather than for that day.

-          Offer 5-6 small meals over the day to give your child plenty of opportunity to eat a range of different foods from the 5 food groups.

-          Offer water as the main drink as sweet drinks can fill small tummies up, ruin appetites and natural appetite regulation.

-          If they don’t like cooked vegetables try vegetable sticks perhaps with dip as snacks or with the meal, soups, vegetable juice or even fruit as an alternative until they learn to like eating their veggies.

-          Always provide foods that kids will eat in addition to foods that you want them to learn to eat.

Eat at the table together

-          Mealtimes are not only a time to eat but a time to socialise. Creating happy memories at mealtimes help kids associate eating as being a positive experience.  Kids are more likely to try something new when they are calm and in a happy mood at the table.  If focussing on food creates conflict best to change the subject and focus on something more fun and interesting.

-          Children learn by seeing what is going on.  When parents eat with their kids they are showing their enjoyment of foods so kids learn to eat these foods too in time with enough exposure.

Have Fun with Food

-          Encourage your child to enjoy interacting with a wide variety of foods. Start a vegetable garden, involve them in meal choices, shopping and cooking.

-          Make some quirky creations and invent elaborate stories to capture their interest. Bugs and butterflies, cars and boats, faces and flowers. Chop things up in different ways and just let them play.

Eat mindfully

-          Remove distractions like TV and other screens and focus on the sensations of the meal.  Talk about the smells, textures and tastes and why you like certain foods.  Tell stories about fond memories of growing, cooking and eating foods when your were young.

-          Encourage listening to one’s natural hunger and satiety signals.  This is an important skill that is commonly lost when we eat for reasons other than for true hunger.  Avoid offering food as a reward, distraction or if they get upset. Use other rewards, activities and comfort strategies.  Appetites will change depending on activity and energy levels, growth and how much they have been eating. Trusting your child’s natural hunger is the best way for them to know how much to eat is just enough and to avoid eating more than what their body needs.   

 

If your child is aged 2-5 years old they would love reading about how Pierre learns to eat a rainbow. 

Pierre Learns To Eat A Rainbow is a story about how Pierre, the pear, learns to eat a wider range of foods. It is for both children and parents to help them through that fussy eating phase we all go through. It is a one of a kind rustic creation that little eyes and fingers would love exploring the pages of and with the help of their parents learning about all the wonderful different types of foods there are to take pleasure in eating. It is the ultimate book for the next generation to care for their world, made mostly from up-cycled materials and only available electronically through Amazon. Have fun reading!