One of the things I love most about sending Owen to a co-op nursery school is how involved parents are asked to be in the community of the school. In addition to the time each parent spends in the classroom, they are also expected to attend two parent meetings a year. Last week I attended the finally parent meeting of the year, which was a workshop about Feeding Your Child's Brain.
From the time I saw this workshop on the calendar I knew I wanted to attend. Owen, as you may know from reading here, is not a huge eater. He's a grazer and would prefer many small meals or snacks a day instead of three meals + plus snacks. He loves hot dogs, french fries and chocolate, but he is also known to eat handfuls of nuts and seeds, bowls of raw spinach and broccoli. He'll eat the good stuff, just not in bulk, so I'm really interested in how we can get the most nutritious bang out of every bite.
Kandice Stellmon, a Certified Nutrition Consultant, walked us through all the ways we can feed our children to help their beautiful brains grow in the healthiest way possible!
A couple takeaways, interesting facts and great reminders from the workshop:
Fatty brains I was unaware that our brains are mainly made (over 75%!) of fat, and that our brains really need healthy fats for optimal brain function. The best ways to get these healthy fats are from Omega 3 fats, which you can get from flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and hemp seeds. She also suggested everyone in your family taking a fish oil supplement.
Rule out crackers - Also emphasized how bad trans fats are for us, and really bad for our children, which I know, but it was an important reminder that while we're so used to giving kids things like Cheddar Bunnies or Chicken Nuggets, they have lots of preservatives. She stressed that kids really should eat fully clean diet with no preservatives if at all possible.
The Rainbow Effect fill plates for you and your children with as many colors as possible.
Supplements fish oil and vitamin D in addition to a multi-vitamin. I'll let you know how the whole fish oil thing goes for us!
For optimal mood and brain function offer children 5-6 small meals throughout the day and a snack after almost each meal.
Introducing new foods it can take up to 20 tries to get a child to try and / or like a new a new food and flavor.
The Dirty Dozen (i.e. fruits and vegetables that are the most contaminated by pesticide use, according to the Environmental Working Group) apples were the worst offender again this year.
Food Affects Mood one of the best and most valuable points she made was that what we feed our children directly affects their mood, brain function, physical ability and comfort. Their little bodies are so sensitive!
So this week, after spending quite a bit of time thinking about making even more healthy choices, I decided to pull out some of my favoite healthy living cook books and pull some of our favorite recipes.
What's on our dinner menu this week:
Chicken & Wild Rice casserole + green salad
Pesto Meatballs with brown rice quinoa + veggies
Shrimp & Avocado salad with sweet potatoes
Pita Pizzas + green salad
snacks: Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls and Strawberry Basil smoothie