I love my food and have been head over heels in love with food since I was a little girl. Food not only fuels my body, it serves as a daily inspiration for me. I live to eat and am blessed with a hearty appetite.
When I was pregnant, I pray that DD will love food as much as DH and I do. I don’t have any particular craving and exposed her to a variety of food. After DD arrived, I breastfeed her and am still breastfeeding her at 15 months. According to the parenting guides, breastfed kids are unlikely to be picky eaters. The theory is that the child is exposed to a smorgasbord of tastes through the breast milk from a young age, as opposed to the homogeneous taste of formula milk.
Well, as I have discovered through my parenthood journey – take what I read from parenting books with a pinch of salt.
Each child is unique. As a child leaves infancy behind and moves in toddlerhood, he/she starts forming his/her opinion and preference in everything, including the food.
DD is no exception. She was doing great, eating well until she neared one year old. There are days when it is just harder to feed her. Through trials and error, here’s some tricks that work for us:
- Offer variety. Mix it up. Don’t feed the same thing day in day out.
- Make a nutrition packed soup/stew. It’s easier to sneak in a few mouthfuls of power food every now and then. For instance, I boil spinach, broccoli, lentils, carrots etc, blend it up and add a protein such as minced beef or fish.
- Offer distraction. I have tried video, feeding her while she is playing with toys and feeding her while taking a walk.
- Let DD feeds herself. The mess can always be cleaned up later.
- Offer competition. Sometimes I pretend to feed her doll. Or when we are out with friends’ kids, we find that she eats as heartily as the next kid.
- Offer a change of location. Don’t always feed at the high chair. She loves it at Fitfor2 at Bangsar Village or Kidzsport and never fails to finish her meal there.
Then there are days when all above fails. I will resort to feeding DD her favourite food – cheese and tomato. I would tell myself that some food is better than no food and try to focus on the big picture, i.e. her diet throughout the week.
In recent years, the diagnosis for hyperactivity (ADHD) and dyslexia in children has been increasing. Leading nutritionist, Patrick Holford, found in his book ‘Smart Food for Smart Kids’ that in many of these cases, the learning disabilities can be eliminated simply through an improvement in diet. Holford explains the positive link between eating nutritious food and a child’s brain power.
I strongly believe in the importance of wholesome food for a growing child. This is why I go out of my way to ensure our school feeds nutrition-packed food. Our nutritionist works on IQ-boosting food to improve the children’s attention and learning ability.
Parents are not charged a leg and limb to select the meal option. Instead our nutritionist team source actively for the right suppliers and works within budget. The children comes first at our school, before any talks of profit and margins.
Unfortunately in Malaysia, our preschools and daycares do not know or care enough about this. Many of the schools continue to serve sugary drinks, pandan cakes, doughnuts, nasi lemaks etc.
When I question these schools, the principals would tell me that 'it's part of their effort to ensure the child gets accustomed to a Malaysian diet.' Erm, I don't think so.
We are what we eat. The stuff we put in our mouth affects our mood, our health and learning ability. Depriving your body of vital nutrients can be detrimental.
A child’s brain goes through exponential growth in the first 6 years and is 97% of adult size by age 6. Hence we should all give our children best head start in life with a wholesome diet.