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Dealing With Kids That are Picky Eaters

Omega 6 fatty acids: what they are and why you need them What exactly are Omega 6 fatty acids, and why do some experts say they’re bad for us?  How does Omega 6 differ from Omega 3 or 9?  If you find all the information about the omega family confusing, this article should help to clear things up. First, the basics. Fatty acids are the building blocks that make up the mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated  fats and oils in our diets.  Our bodies require them in the same way they require other nutrients, e.g. amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Fatty acids are divided into three major groups according to their chemical structure: Omega 3, 6 and 9.  Omega 6 fatty acids can help to maintain heart1, skin and hormonal health, IF they’re in balance with the other omegas in your diet.  Omega 6 fatty acids also play a role in forming hormone-like compounds called prostaglandins, which can affect our health and wellbeing in various ways.  They also make up a significant proportion of our cell membranes. What’s the right Omega 6 balance? Research suggests that we need an Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio of around 2-4:1 to support optimal wellbeing and health.  Unfortunately, the balance of these fatty acids in our Western diet is often closer to 14-25:12. In these ratios, the prostaglandins that we produce can actually create inflammation in our various systems, rather than countering it.  The result is that instead of supporting our health, Omega 6 fatty acids may make certain inflammatory conditions worse. Of course, this isn’t to say that we should avoid Omega 6 fatty acids completely.  However, it does mean that we need to ensure our intake is in balance with our intake of other omega fatty acids. Flaxseed oil is one of the most balanced natural Omega 6 sources Many wholegrain and plant foods contain Omega 6 fatty acids. However, none of them contain Omega 6 in a more naturally balanced ratio with other omegas than flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is extracted from the seeds of the flax (Linum usitatissimum) bush. Omega ratios can vary somewhat between individual flaxseed oils, but an Omega 3 content of anything up to 65% is not unusual.  Because the remaining fatty acids include both Omega 6 and 9, flaxseed oil is an ideal choice to provide a balanced omega intake. What to look for in a flaxseed oil supplement Omega 6 oils are particularly heat-sensitive, so ensure that any supplement you choose is cold-pressed.   They also oxidise easily, so it’s important to store liquid flaxseed oil in a completely airtight bottle in the fridge. Or, alternatively, choose a capsule – not only do many people find capsules more convenient to take, but encapsulating the oil helps to prevent oxidation. Finally, try to find an organic product.  If the flaxseeds have been grown organically, they’re certified as being free of toxic residues from pesticides or fertilizers.  And the fewer of those you take in, the better! 1William S. Harris, Dariush Mozaffarian,; Eric Rimm, Penny Kris-Etherton, Lawrence L. Rudel, Lawrence J. Appel, Marguerite M. Engler, Mary B. Engler, Frank Sacks. Omega-6 Fatty Acids and Risk for Cardiovascular Disease. Circulation. 2009;119:902-907 2http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/flaxseed-oil-000304.htm

When it comes to serving your kids nutritious meals, most parents will have experienced – at least once ‐ being confronted with screwed up faces and a blatant refusal to try certain foods. Unfortunately it is most often vegetables that appear to be the culprit when it comes to bringing out the devil in your usually angelic child. Meal times can become a battle of wills which, at the end of a busy day looking after children or fighting fires at the office, can create a huge amount of unnecessary stress and angst.

Rest assured, however, that most kids will not stay picky eaters forever! Whilst they are, you can follow some simple steps to make meal times less stressful:

Make healthy options a part of your normal routine – having a piece of fruit after a meal is a nice habit to get into as children value healthy options whilst giving a sweet ‘treat’. It also means that if kids do not want to eat all their dinner, at least you know that their ‘sweet’ dessert option is healthy.

Don’t use food as a reward – when you tie positive behaviour to a treat which is usually high in sugar (if you eat your vegetables, you can have some ice‐cream), your life becomes a battleground of compromise on food. Instead, place the value on good foods and let kids eat until they are full, rather than until they get a reward.

Make good food choices yourself – you are the best model for your children’s eating behaviour. Make sure they see you eating – and enjoying ‐ a wide range of healthy foods.

Eat meals as a family ‐ this often takes the focus of the food itself as everyone has the opportunity to share a part of their day and enjoy each other’s company.

Have healthy snacks on hand – there are some sneaky and easy ways to get some nutritious foods into your kids. Snacks such as carrot sticks and hummus, rice or corn cakes with nut butter, sticks of celery with peanut butter or ricotta and sultanas, dried fruits, homemade muesli bars (use natural muesli and mix with a little bit of oil, honey and egg to bind, then bake in the oven for 25 minutes).

Let kids eat when they are hungry – rather than enforcing your schedule on your kids, allow them to sometimes choose when they are ready to eat.

Hide vegetables in everything! Grated (eg., carrot, zucchini) and finely chopped (eg., broccoli, capsicum, snow peas, asparagus) vegetables as well as peas and corn can be added to all sorts of kid ‐ friendly dishes such as bolognaise sauce, pasta bakes, cheese and vegetable savoury muffins, and frittatas.