The effects of treatment
Like many parents caring for a child receiving treatment, you may have experienced challenges getting your child to eat healthy foods, or even eat at all during this time. Balancing your child’s nutritional needs with the side effects they are experiencing can be very stressful and may have led to you compromising on healthier options in order to make sure they ate. In addition to the effects of treatment, we are aware how challenging it can be to eat healthy meals if you are short on time, only have limited options available at the hospital or are facing financial strain.
These are all normal experiences parents tell us about, and we want to acknowledge you for the work you did to care for your child’s nutritional needs during this time.
“She was not interested in fruit, vegies, anything… it was certainly something I noticed because my toddler had always been a really good fruit and vegie eater…”
Now that treatment is over, you may find yourself “stuck” in the eating habits that were formed during treatment. It can be daunting to try and transition back to healthier eating, but there are many fun and simple tools you can use to encourage your child.
Below are some suggested tips and activities you can try in your home to make eating healthier easier. It may take some time for your child to embrace these new habits, so we encourage you to take your time and do your best to stick to the ones that work for your family. We’re here to cheer you on!
Tip 1 – Healthy eating on the go
A great way to encourage healthy eating when you’re on the go is by having fruit and vegetables washed and ready for when you want to grab a quick snack on your way out. Having them out in a bowl or pre-chopped in the fridge makes it convenient if there’s not a lot of time to prepare lunch before you go, and also makes it easier to quickly eat something while you’re travelling throughout the day. If you have some time to prepare meals the day before, there are lots of creative healthy snack options you can make, for example, mini frittatas or carrot muffins.
Tip 2 – Making a meal plan
Meal planning can feel daunting at times, especially whilst adjusting to your ‘new normal’ post-cancer treatment. We encourage you to think about planning your meals as a way to make healthy eating easier for your child. You can plan your family’s meals for a couple of days or up to a week at a time.
- Think about and write down all the meals and snacks you are going to prepare that week.
- Write a shopping list using all the foods/items that you will need to make each meal and snack.
When you make your plan, try to think about how you can increase how much you offer your child delicious fruits and vegetables.
Tip 3 – Are frozen vegetables better? Fact or myth?
We often hear how busy our families are, especially as they adjust and transition to life post-cancer. With limited time it can be challenging to make it to the shops, let alone cooking a hot meal each night while also being mindful of the cost of fruits and vegetables. Frozen vegetables can provide a convenient alternative, are just as nutritious as fresh foods and require no chopping!
Tip 4 – Making mealtimes meaningful
Mealtime conversation is a great way to check in with everyone about their day and to keep healthy eating the focus. Using praise to acknowledge they tried something new is a powerful strategy and can strengthen the relationship towards helping your child thrive. Keeping mealtimes enjoyable and positive can also contribute towards building positive change. You could also be creative in your conversation and chat about where your food comes from or discuss an interesting fact, for example, “did you know that broccoli is a flower?”
As you start working on changing your child’s eating habits, please remember to be kind to yourself. It can take time and persistence to learn what works best for your family to see the results you are after. Remember, Redkite are here to support you if you need it.
For more helpful tips, activities, and recipes, join our ‘Refresh Kids’ Eating’ online program for parents and carers.