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Crowd out unhealthy food

I have become the crazy bunny lady. Last night, after fetching Shadow from a far flung corner of the neighbourhood, I walked back home along the road with him tucked under my arm.

After being missing for two nights, I was worried he had fallen foul of a cat, a car or a cooking pot. But after a tip-off from a friend I tracked him down and he hopped happily over.

On the way back home I gave him strict instructions to come back every evening with the promise of lots of food and a cosy hutch. It was only later that I realised I must have looked certifiable, walking along the road chatting to a rabbit. I spend nearly as much time worrying about what he eats as I do the children.

Fortunately, the dietary requirements of a rabbit are pretty straightforward. Alfalfa, kale, a little carrot and apple ... even the occasional berry. It's not like I have to worry about artificial food dye in the grass. And he doesn't reject anything because it's not the right colour or shape. Children, on the other hand, are much more tricky.

Although my girls have only ever known a relatively healthy diet, they both went through frustrating phases. When she was 18 months old, Chloe embarked on a strict regime of yoghurt, Cheerios and peas. Not cooked peas mind you, they had to be frozen. At least that was easy! Exposed to sugar at a much earlier age than Chloe (common for second siblings), I had a harder time getting Belle to eat fruit.

But as frustrating as the quirks were, they didn't really last for long. I was armed with endless tips and tricks from training and now I had two subjects to test it all out on. They never really had a chance. This doesn't mean that they don't get excited about birthday cake and candy, of course they do …. so don't expect them to choose Brussels sprouts over snowcones!

My own journey through the reality of raising children in our current food climate led to the development of the Natural Kids classes. These are seminars for parents and caregivers that show how great nutrition can optimise learning, mood and behaviour — and how the opposite does the opposite!

The next round starts next week so do check out the website if you are interested. If finances are tricky, we have five sponsored spots available from People's Pharmacy, so feel free to contact me in confidence.

If you can't make the classes, try considering this. One of the most important things I teach parents isn't about what to feed their children, it's about what they should be eating around their children. As parents or caregivers you are some of the first role models for what, why and how children eat. Are you eating junk? Is it because you are stressed? Are you in a rush or on the move?

It's hard to change the habits of a lifetime though, especially if you view healthy eating as restrictive.

One of the ways around this issue is to use the Crowd-It-Out strategy. Make a deal with yourself that you're going to eat a whole list of healthy things each day. And you have to eat the healthy thing before the junk.

What you're doing is a win-win …. you'll be eating healthy food and you'll simply have less room for the junk. I am not saying that nothing will slip through the net, but I bet there's a lot less that gets through.

Give it your best shot and let me know how it goes.

Crowd It Out strategy

Before you have a coffee ….

Crowd it out with a cup of hot water and lemon, and a large glass of water.

Before you have a muffin or a breakfast wrap ….

Crowd it out with wholegrain cereal, fresh fruit and chopped nuts.

Before you have a cookie ….

Crowd it out with some carrot sticks and hummus.

Before you have KFC for lunch ….

Crowd it out with a salad, including protein (eg chicken) and good fat (eg avocado) and as much salad veg as you like.

Before you have another cookie and another coffee ….

Crowd it out with a KIND bar (choose one with 5g sugars or less — Supermart have a great range — and a glass of water or a herbal tea.

Before you pick up takeout for dinner ….

Crowd it out with an omelette, pumpkin and steamed green vegetables.

Before you reach for the after-dinner ice-cream/chips/chocolate ….

Crowd it out with plain Greek yoghurt and Holy Crap cereal (Miles) or an Energy bite (see my Facebook page) or plain sea salt lentil chips (Supermart and most other grocery stores.)

• The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA Hons, Dip ION is the managing director of Natural Ltd and a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. For details, please go to www.natural.bm or call 236-7511. Join Catherine on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nutrifitandnaturalnutritionbermuda

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Published March 20, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated March 20, 2015 at 2:19 am)

Crowd out unhealthy food

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