INSTA-INDUCED MUM GUILT: THE LUNCHBOX EDITION
BY JO WHITEHEAD
I don’t know about you, but Instagram has been a great personal support to me during my years of motherhood. Being able to engage with like-minded people who share and value the same ideas and ways of doing life as me - as well as learning from others who do things differently – has offered amazing support through the lonely nights up feeding, while the rest of the house sleeps. I love how Instagram brings people together to celebrate their wins, struggles and passions.
What I don’t find helpful though, is the pressure it can put on mum’s to do everything perfectly. From the perfect baby clothing and nursery, to the flawless house, to the rush back to workouts to achieve the “9 months in, 9 months out selfie’’, and the often un-achievable “my day on the plate”… it can end up leaving some mothers feeling as though they are not doing a good enough job.
Through my work as a nutritionist specialising in mothers and children, I have spoken with countless women who feel the pressures to feed their child wholesome, nutrient dense foods – you know, like what they see others feeding their children on Instagram. Those perfectly styled photos of bento boxes brimming with tasty, homemade food. By the way, I am not knocking this – I too provide these sort of lunches (mostly!) to my own children – what I am getting at is that it can start to feel overwhelming to the mum who has just started to think about the sorts of food she feeds her children, or the mum juggling a newborn and toddler who can hardly find the time to eat herself.
I am all about making nutrition achievable by providing realistic advice. With three children of my own, I completely understand how difficult it can be some days to feel like you are doing a good job at anything. There can be a lot of stress and pressure around what we feed our kids especially with the overwhelming amount of information available to us, both online and what we hear from other people’s experiences and views (cue: mother’s group: “my baby ate this today, she is such a good eater!”, “cutting out this particular food group cured her eczema in 1 day!” I am sure you have all had those conversations!)
But how do we navigate through all of this information to determine what our kids should actually be eating daily?
Let me keep it simple for you with these 5 simple steps:
1. Fresh fruit and vegetables: growing children can have 2-3 serves of fruit per day to provide fibre, vitamins, minerals and energy, as well as many vegetables as you can get into them! Alternate between raw, steamed, mashed, baked etc. Adjusting the size and texture according to the age of the child.
2. Some sort of protein: plant or animal. Does your child only eat sausages? (you will be surprised how many I have come across who only do!) – aim for a good quality grass-fed sausage and introduce plant based protein such as beans and legumes for other meals during the week, there is an amazing range of lentil and bean pasta around in the supermarkets now! Other proteins such as fish, chicken, pork, lamb and of course eggs are also great sources.
3. 1-2 serves of fermented foods: kid doesn’t like sauerkraut? (mine don’t!), try Greek yoghurt, coconut yoghurt or kefir in smoothies
4. Good fats: essential for growth and brain development. Think avocado, nuts/seeds, hummus, eggs, coconut, meat, cheese and full fat dairy
5. Whole grains: for the all-important fibre and energy production. Try oats for breakfast, wraps made from wholesome flours such as rye or spelt or rice cakes with peanut butter and banana.
This is a good place to start if you are unsure of what to feed your children daily. Start with small steps… are your kids used to sugary yoghurt? Try Greek yoghurt with raw honey (over 12 months) and fresh fruit, try making some sausage rolls and chicken nuggets from scratch (some easy recipes on my Instagram feed) or try adding ¼ avocado and a tablespoon of chia seeds into a banana smoothie for all-important good fats and omega 3’s. I am all about providing simple swaps and inclusions to boost your children’s nutritional intake without the stress.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jo Whitehead is a Central Coast based nutritionist and mother of three. She is passionate about people finding their ‘zone’ when it comes to living a healthy life and having adequate energy and motivation to get the most out of everything they do. Her aim is to help people find what works for them without having to follow fads or diets. With a down-to-earth approach to health and well-being, Jo realises how difficult it is to know what path to take in regards to health as there are so many options being presented as the ‘right way’.