I don’t want Palak. Can I please have pizza today?” Yes! Every parent gets to hear this. If not pizza then it’s a burger. Children in today’s time prefer eating fast food more frequently. They crave the juicy sauces and tempting tastes. There is no doubt that the food is delicious.
But, does it contain enough nutrients? Does eating fast food benefit your child’s growth? Parents have many questions regarding healthy eating habits for kids. Having concern for your child’s health, you may force them to eat healthy food. You will keep on rejecting your child’s request for pizza. You will also try to slip in healthy vegetables in a roll. No matter how healthy you serve, they just won’t eat properly.
Healthy eating habits for kids: Tips to make them eat food properly
We have come up with some ways to help you with your child’s eating habits. If you implement these methods in your child’s life it will change them. Your child, from a fussy eater, will turn to someone who looks forward to eating nutritious food. Children will have tremendous energy to do what they need to do in life.
1. Allow children to play with their food:
Let’s say you have served dinner. The plate looks colourful with dal, roti, rice and salad. Parents often insist that children eat in a particular manner. Break the roti and then eat it with dal. Have a bite of salad. Don’t do that. If children prefer putting the dal on roti and then eating it, let them. If your child wants to mix the dal and sabzi and then eat, allow that. What difference does that make?
The objective of making delicious food is for your child to eat it. It isn’t to eat it separately or in a particular way. So allow your child to eat in their own way. For your assurance, they will get all the nutrients in the food.
Some parents take eating seriously. They insist on their children to keep quiet and eat. Is eating punishment? No! So, if your child likes to sing while eating that’s fine too. As long as children eat what is served, a little fun is acceptable. Let eating be a matter of joy. Let eating be fun and play. How beautiful it will be if you tell your children to mix and match the food!
Ask them to try the roti with salad. Ask them to have rice with salad. Then, you ask them the difference between the tastes. If you made the dal different today, ask them if the taste is different. Let them guess what new ingredient you have used today.
Eating is important but it’s not a military campaign. Let there be emotions. Let there be drama and enjoyment. Let there be personal tastes and choices. Encourage your children to play with food. Let eating food not be a serious affair. You will see that your child is eating more than what you expected.
2. Create a food chart:
This is a normal thing parents will see when children won’t eat what is served. They will keep requesting fast food and snacks. We suggest you create a food chart to improve this habit of your children. Sit with your children and ask them what they would like to eat.
Their list will be filled with pizza, pasta, burgers, cutlets and whatnot. Accept their side of the agreement. Then you enlist the food that you want them to eat. Tell them that this food is necessary for their growth.
A few things are eaten for the taste, while many are required for the growth of the body. Having decided what they want, let them choose a few days to eat it. Allow them a certain number of days when they can eat what they like. For the rest of the days give them options.
For instance; you want your children to have protein. Give them a few options like kidney beans, broccoli, potato, and brinjal. Ask them what would they like to eat. The same goes for calcium and other nutrients.
Create a weekly plan with your children and make a fair deal of eating. Most importantly stick to the schedule. You can change the schedule for the next week if your child doesn’t feel like eating a particular food.
But, stick to the schedule that has been made. This will help your child to be disciplined. They will also be responsible for the decision made earlier.
3. Start small and grow big:
Parents have great expectations from their children. I want my child to have a plateful of paneer. There are chances that your child doesn’t like paneer. You still keep on insisting on eating a plateful of paneer. Why? Simply start small.
Let’s say, you desire children to eat at least 6 cubes, start small. Ask them to eat 1 cube for now. Make a pact with yourself that in 6 months you will get to the goal. You will see your child eating 6 or even more cubes of paneer. Also, don’t forget to appreciate your child’s effort.
Simply say, ‘I appreciate it. Even if you don’t like it, you eat just because mamma wants you to. Excellent! – “You are very brave to eat it even if you don’t like it.” – “You are smart to eat it because you know that your body needs it.’
Next month make it 2 cubes when there is no resistance to 1 The month later make it 3. Take 6 months. Start small and be consistent. You will reach to 6 cubes. Don’t put ultimatums like ‘if you don’t eat it I won’t give you the toy you liked’. Don’t make eating a punishment. They will resist even more. Just keep your calm, start small and be consistent.
4. Invite an adventure eater to your home :
It happens, sometimes, if we see someone eating passionately we feel like eating too. We crave the food even more if our friends like it so much. Apply the same method here. Invite one of your child’s friends to your home. Cook the food you want your child to eat. Make them sit together and eat. As the adventurous eater eats, you can start small.
Your child might say ‘It doesn’t taste good’. While, the friend goes on munching, asking for more. When your children see their friends eating in such a manner, they will start doubting. ‘Am I judgemental?” Is my taste bud not right?” Is something wrong with my preferences?’ Eventually, your child will eat the food. The key point here is to invite such an adventurous eater who likes the food you want your child to eat.
5. Make the food look beautiful:
The food is at the right temperature. The food at the right quantity on the plate. Food that looks colourful. Imagine if you serve a plate full of yellow food; yellow dal, yellow sabji like aloo. Wouldn’t it look boring? At least from the perspective of a child. Grow out as a chef within yourself See how else you can present the food. Can you create some variety?
Maybe you can add more colours to the dish by making red sabji. You can also go for palak paneer. There are varieties of dal, black dal, red sal, and orange dal. Go for these varieties. Add a little portion of salad to the plate, it is colourful and healthy. You can also serve the food in different shapes. Some days the rotis can be square or heart-shaped. The more the food looks beautiful, it will be for the child to eat it.
If you find these methods relevant and exciting do implement them. Our aim is to feed the vital nutrients to children. It doesn’t matter what method. Lashing out at them and forcing them to eat won’t help. Have patience and make the process at a smaller pace. You will see your child will eat what is necessary.