Jelena Joksimović: "Domestic and seasonal – the best choice."

Jelena Joksimović, editor-in-chief of the magazine “Ljepota i zdravlje,” shared her experiences with some of the “tricks” she uses in planning healthy nutrition for her four-year-old son.

Bojana Karanović for UNICEF
JELENA JOKSIMOVIĆ: "Domaće i sezonsko – najbolji izbor."1
05 December 2018

“My child adores Chase’s character from the “Paw Patrol,” and I think that the next attempt to get him to eat certain fruits, which he does not like, will be making that dog from food,” she reveals editor-in-chief of the magazine “Ljepota i zdravlje,” Jelena Joksimović to us one of the ways in which she is trying to get her son Filip to eat healthy food.

Jelena is known as the advocate of healthy lifestyles, which she promotes on both personal and professional level. As an excellent connoisseur of nutritional principles, she is always happy to support projects that promote awareness of the importance of healthy eating among children and youth. On this occasion, she supported UNICEF’s “Nutrition Friendly Schools” program, which under the slogan “Eat Well, Grow Well ” promotes the importance of adopting and nurturing the principles of healthy eating among children in kindergartens and schools throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, and she shared with us some of the “tricks” she uses when planning a healthy diet for her four-year-old son.

Due to everyday professional obligations, the preparation of healthy meals implies good organization and planning, and time is a big challenge, but the money is not a problem in that sense because fruit and vegetables in our stores are still affordable. In preparing meals, she believes that domestic and seasonal are the best choice, and she often finds inspiration on social networks, where she also shares the experience with other parents.

What are the experiences with the diet in your family?  How much does your son like or dislike fruit, vegetables, and other healthy food?

Although we are aware that fruit and vegetables are the first things to think about when referring to healthy food, some situations of rejections are almost impossible to avoid. From the beginning of introducing solid food for my son Filip, I based on domestic groceries from the garden of someone I know. However, with growing up and some habits in kindergarten, Filip mainly does not like groceries that are of green color. And I really cannot do anything about that. He can eat broccoli somehow, but he does not like spinach. He rejects it so much that I gave up. He eats fruit now and then, mostly apples and bananas. Pome fruits are currently out of question, but I am thinking and looking for new ways to “trick” him.

How important is it to promote a healthy lifestyle from early childhood?

A child is a sponge that absorbs everything from his parents and the environment in which he spends most of his time. It is very important to get the child used to all the tastes, even sour and bitter, so that latter it is easier for them to accept what is offered. I am a supporter of food avoidance when the time of the year is not right for that certain food. For example, tomatoes in the winter period should be avoided, and the winter food that was prepared at the end of the summer should be eaten.

Parents often complain that they do not have time or money for healthy meals every day. As a mother, who is busy on a daily basis, how do you manage to balance your obligations and provide a healthy and delicious meal for your child?

Time is a big challenge, but money is certainly not (unless we buy a lot of nuts in healthy food stores). Vegetables and fruit are very cheap in our region. Meat is more expensive, but I still cannot understand why people complain that healthy food is expensive and they still buy a kilogram of meat for lunch. The salad costs 1 KM, the zucchini also, from a kilogram of beans we can make three lunches etc. I prepare some meals a day earlies, such as soup, and the rest of the lunch is then prepared in thirty minutes. I even freeze soup for two more meals, and then generally everything goes relatively fast. If I cook whole rice, I also prepare it a day before, and the sauce and the rest, I prepare the next day. As a great fan of the Ayurvedic lifestyle, I am not really thrilled about eating the food that was staying overnight, but that is something that cannot be avoided if you are home at 17 o’clock.

Jelena sa sinom Filipom1

How do you prepare food and how much time do you need to prepare a healthy meal?

For some time I was guided by the macrobiotic principles of food preparation that pay a great attention to not only the type of food but also to how it is grown, the way it is prepared and consumed, e.g. that different foods can go together or not. It was really hard to cope with that, but whoever has enough time, I can guarantee that he or she will feel light, healthy, and happy. Now, with limited time, I sometimes reach for already prepared meals, but those are mostly some kinds of vegetables with little meat, risotto, or some healthy version of pasta. Of course, traditional soup is always a starter. I need about thirty minutes for preparing a meal if I do not count on washing dishes after 😊.

How can you convince your child to eat healthy meals, fruit, and vegetables?

I most often blackmail him. I’m sorry to say this so honestly, but I reward eating vegetables with a cartoon movie or colored chocolate candies, going to the cinema or playroom. If I give him candies, he gets only five of them and I do not consider it as a problem. I am not happy with the tricks I use, but sometimes I have no other way.

How do you handle the usage of sweets, snacks and other industrial products?

Filip does not eat snacks by some miracle, but we also do not have them in the house, so I guess that is the reason. I like sweets more than he does, but for many years I have been eating them only on weekends, and so does he. He does not ask for them, because I do not put them where he can see them unless he gets sweets as a reward. I have to say again that rewarding for eating is not a good option, but I am still looking for a better one.

Do you use some “tricks” to get your child to eat healthily and have any advice for other mothers?

I recently discovered a profile on Instagram – Ignjatovamama, which makes wonders made of food. As my child worships Chase from Paw Patrol cartoon, I think that the next attempt to get him to eat certain fruits, which he does not like to eat, is to make this dog from food. Social network Pinterest is the empire of ideas and tricks, and whenever I do not know what to do, I always look for ideas there.

UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina conducts the project “Nutrition Friendly Schools” in cooperation with the competent ministries, public health institutes, NGO Public Health Partnership and the Association of Chefs of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Under the slogan “Eat Well, Grow Well”, our goal is to, together with children, parents, and teaching staff, develop awareness of the importance of adopting and nurturing healthy lifestyle habits.

The goal of the project, which is implemented according to the methodology of the World Health Organization, is not only to promote healthy diet among children and youth, but also to influence the adoption of appropriate policies at the level of educational institutions that would place healthy living habits in the general program and continuously promote them.