Early Years Cook's Training
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Nigel Denby - Chef & Nutritionist
Author of the GL Diet and Broadcaster, Nigel Denby combines his dietetic training with a love of food – he is a trained chef and restaurateur. Nigel’s TV presence include – BBC1’s “The One Show”, the ITV1 Series – ‘Teen Mums’ and ITV1’s ‘Kyle’s Academy’; BBC2’s ‘The Truth about Food’ and numerous appearances on BBC Breakfast. Writing for the Sunday Telegraph Magazine, Zest, Essentials and Somerfield Magazine, Nigel is also the Nutritionist for www.closerdiets.com.
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Nigel Denby - Chef & Nutritionist Question & Answer transcripts
My son is lactose intolerant and his nursery is struggling to cater for him, they want me to take all his food in pre prepared from home - is there any advice you can give which I can pass on to them?
Our expert's answer:
Hi confused carer!
Finding out your child has a food intolerance can be a bit of a shock and seem quite daunting, but knowing what the problem is means you have turned a corner and now a lot of the problems you have been experiencing can start to improve.
Lactose intolerance is surprisingly common so I am a little disappointed that your nursery doesn’t feel confident about feeding children with the condition. Your son can’t tolerate lactose, the sugar naturally found in diary foods. Often, as I am sure you are only too aware, this can result in violent vomiting when dairy foods are eaten. Some children do grow out of the problem but for the time being he’ll need to avoid all dairy food and foods containing milk and dairy foods. It’s important to make sure that he eats plenty of alternative foods containing calcium to help is bones grow and strengthen. There are soya non dairy foods to use as alternatives to almost all common dairy foods including milk, yoghurt, desserts, custards, cream and cheese- look for brands which are “calcium enriched”. Soya is a good alternative to dairy foods for children with lactose intolerance because it contains a good amount of protein which is also important for growth and development. Some other alternatives to dairy foods like oat milk for instance do not contain adequate amounts of protein for young children.
Because lactose intolerance is so common there are many more alternative products available now than ever before.
If you go to http://grub4life.co.uk/factsheets/nc1b98546ad0e5c024f2ae1bbd227293b/ you’ll find our latest resource- our food and intolerance manual. We wrote this to support childminders, nurseries and children’s centres who cater for children with food allergies and intolerances. The manual focuses on dairy, wheat and egg intolerance and allergy and gives very practical guidance on how to manage these conditions in a child care environment. The manual is free of charge and can be downloaded in pdf format- please do make your Son’s nursery aware of it. We also provide training for childcare settings on managing food intolerance and food allergy. The manual will also be useful for you as a parent to help you spot hidden sources of dairy foods on food labels and also on how to adapt recipes.
Of course all of the Grub4life recipes include adaptations for milk, wheat and egg allergies so your Sons nursery may find these helpful too.
Thanks again for your question and I hope this helps?
Our health visitor has said that starting to wean at 5 months is too early and we should wait until our daughter is 6 months. But she doesn’t seem satisfied with just her milk feeds- any advice?
Our expert's answer:
Hi Caring MumThis debate seems to go on and on and on. In short it can be equally harmful to start weaning too early or to leave it too late. Too early and babies digestive system isn’t ready to cope, too late and there is a risk that milk feeds won’t be able to keep up with the baby’s needs.
The difficulty with giving a “one size fits all” answer is that one size actually doesn’t fit all- babies will be ready to wean any time between 4-6months so it varies enormously. Similarly, babies will move through different stages of weaning at different rates- some stay on puree’s for a while, others seem to move onto family food rapidly. You and your baby will be the best judge on when it’s time to start and as long as you have waited until she is 4 months, but started by the time she is 6 months you should be fine.
If you start weaning before 6months there are some foods that you need to wait a while to introduce though:
Foods to avoid before six months:
•Foods containing gluten - such as bread, pasta, chapattis, cereals
•Nuts and seeds
•Raw or cooked shellfish
•Shark, swordfish and marlin
•Citrus fruit and juices
•Foods containing plant sterols, e.g. some margarines and yoghurts
•Honey should not be given to children under the age of 12 months
We have very comprehensive guidelines for weaning which I think you would also find very useful
If your daughter goes to a Childminder or nursery I would also strongly recommend you work with her childcare provider- this will mean that between you, you can help her through the stages together and both know where you are. Ultimately, despite all the controversy about when to start- most babies are at a similar stage by the time they reach 12 months.
Thanks again for stopping by- Nigel.
Nigel, Our little girl takes after me, she isn't great on her five a day.
She will eat peas, carrots and sometimes a little sweetcorn. Occasionally, she will have some fruit, but she needs a bit of encouragement. Do you think she is getting enough antioxidants or should we be thinking about something else - a vitamin supplement or something similar. Any suggestions gratefully received.
Our expert's answer:
Wow- I wish I had a pound for every parent who worries about this! Believe me you are not alone.
Now I am the first to say that variety is the spice of life- especially when it comes to nutrition but don’t worry too much if your daughter isn’t yet fully enjoying the full spectrum of fruit and veg.
You say she eat carrots, sweetcorn and peas and some fruit- so that’s a good start! Eating a range of different coloured fruit and vegetables is what’s needed to get a good mix of antioxidants so you are on the right track with the veg- how about the fruit?
Have a look at http://grub4life.co.uk/factsheets/nb24fbd06d0289c5206359312e2d11d3e/ to find out more about Eating a rainbow of different coloured fruit and veg. Some parents find that using a rainbow chart and coloured stickers to mark the range of different coloured fruit and veg their children have eaten during the week can be a great incentive for toddlers. I’m not sure if your daughter goes to nursery or a childminder- but if she does have a word there to see what variety she eats- you might well be pleasantly surprised!
Don’t forget that fruit and veg portions can include fresh, frozen, dried (when part of a meal for toddlers), juice (only once a day) and canned. A toddler portion of fruit and veg is equal to the amount that would fit into their fist so it’s not as big as an adult portion.
It’s great that you encourage her at meal times, but try not to make her aware that you are anxious- she will almost certainly latch onto that. Keep introducing new fruits and vegetables and be patient- let her play with fruits and vegetables outside of mealtimes- this will enable her to touch, smell and even taste them without the pressure of a meal time. Above all Graham, don’t worry too much- toddler’s preferences can often seem a little dull and repetitive but they can do perfectly well on eating similar foods for a period. Just make sure that she has some of the fruit and veg she will eat every day and experiment with new varieties- but don’t try hiding them in her food as this may put her off- let her see the new fruit or veg on the plate and don’t stress if she rejects it- just try it again another time.
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I used to be a childminder but now part of my role is to support childminders. One of my main issues when minding was coming up with menus that all the children would eat. I would often have mixed ages, some with allergies, a milk allergy, another was a Muslim so their diet was restricted and some were just fussy! Then just to add to the dilema I had parents with totally unrealistic expectations for their childs diet! Often I ended up cooking different meals to suit different needs or if we found something we all could eat we would have it so often it was boring! I am sure I am not alone with this experience!
Our expert's answer:
We have huge respect for Childminder’s at Grub4life and we are so glad that more and more of you are joining us- we recently set up the on line forum especially for Childminders to share their experiences- and also as a place for them to just catch up with each other, have a laugh and let off steam!
Just like you, when we started preparing the Grub4life menus we had a huge number of considerations- one of our Children’s Centres had over 30 different languages and cultures to consider plus food intolerances and religious dietary restrictions to adhere to- so we certainly know where you are coming from.
All of the menus and recipes in the resources section
have been designed taking all of the factors you mention into consideration, the each stage 1 (weaning) and stage 3(family food) recipe is based on a base (stage 20 recipe so that you can cater for different aged children using one base dish that you simplify for purees or work up from for family food. Each recipe has guidance for adaptation to suit vegetarians, wheat free, egg free and milk free diets. There is also lots of information about cultural menus and religious dietary restrictions in the menu planning documents
These are all available in pdf format for free download from the resources pages so please do take advantage of them and use them to make your life easier.
My daughter attends a nursery three days a week- they generally have a hot meal at lunch time but only sandwiches for tea, we often need to give her something else when we get home. I’d like to suggest the nursery look at some of the grub4life menus- will that be ok?
Our expert's answer:
Of course it’s ok for your daughter’s nursery to have a look and use the Grub4life menus and recipes- that’s what they are there for!
http://grub4life.co.uk/factsheets/ the first page of the resources section contains everything they should need- they all free so please go right ahead.
Sandwiches every day for tea is a little disappointing, but not that uncommon I’m afraid. This can happen for a lot of different reasons, nurseries sometimes don’t realise that children need something more substantial, sometimes there is no cook after lunchtime, or in very rare circumstances it comes down to budgets- what ever the reason it’s just not good enough and this is why Grub4life is so passionate about campaigning for national nutritional standards in Early Years childcare.
A nutritious teatime meal doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to make- pasta, soups, risotto, quiche etc are all easy, cheap, quick and packed with energy, vitamins and minerals. The Caroline Walker Trust suggest that teatime meals should provide at least 20% of a child’s energy intake for the day- sandwiches every day will struggle to do that!
Your daughter is in nursery three days a week , but let’s not forget that a lot of children- thousands of children in fact are in nursery 5 days a week from early in the morning until 6pm or later- that ,means they will receive the majority of the food they eat in childcare until they are aged 5- surely we can do better than that!
John- you have got me on my soap box now, but if you agree with me (or not) please do give us your comments on the forum where we discuss this
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