With the growing issue of obesity globally, its becoming increasingly important to feed a healthy diet to our kids. The wide range of fast food options and sub standard restaurants mushrooming all around us make it all the more necessary to develop healthy eating habits among kids and encourage eating at home. That, however, is not a one day task. While you will need to ensure you don’t give up on that too soon, it is important to accept that children will take their time to develop taste for vegetables and other items rich in nutritional value.
Here are a few tips that you can implement in your child’s everyday eating routine to encourage healthy eating:
1. Make a Snack Schedule
Munching continuously and at hours other than lunch/dinner leads to overeating which in turn causes weight gain. Moreover, eating snacks at all times causes your child to lose his appetite by lunch/dinner hours. If you indulge in making nutritious and healthy snacks for kids, however, there’s no harm in going for snacks at off hours. Also ensure that kids do not eat anywhere other than the dining room in the house. That way you can keep track of their diet.
2. Limit Fast Food Intake
Many parents make fast food a source of reward for the children. This is a wrong approach towards healthy eating as it would make children develop a thing for junk food and develop a disliking for fruits and vegetables. Make fast food an option only when you don’t want to cook once in a while so that children don’t take it as positive reinforcement.
3. Let the Kids Decide
If you’re struggling with developing healthy eating habits among your children, you must be tired of listening to “I don’t like that” by now. However, if you let them select from the list of vegetables, fruits and healthy carbohydrates, it will be their decision which they’re less likely to go against. You can select the main course e.g. rice and gravy, and let them select their salad topping and dressing. You can always get a variety of sauces from the grocery store that your children will love with the salad.
4. Don’t Think “It’s too Early”
Its never too early to start including vegetables in your child’s diet. (Unless, of course, they’re younger than 6–8 months). Once kids start eating solid food, you can always add mashed rice, mashed potatoes, broccoli, apricot, grapefruit and mashed bananas to their meals. You must know that kids take their time to adopt to a new food’s taste and texture. They might be hesitant initially, but feeding it for a long enough period makes them develop a liking for it. By the age your children start going to school, they will already have developed a taste for vegetables and fruits and you’ll get to hear less of their complaints compared to children who weren’t fed fruits and vegetables from the beginning.
5. Keep your Refrigerator Stocked
You don’t want your kids munching snacks every time they feel hungry. In order to avoid that, you need to keep your refrigerator stocked with chopped lettuce, bell peppers, mushroom, apples, bananas. Secondly, avoid bringing home grocery full of crisps and junk food. When the only option available would be items with nutritional value, your kids won’t turn to snacks. You can always teach them to make themselves a salad (by using chopped vegetables) which they can make at their convenience.
The most important factor is to be a good role model amidst all of this. Children develop habits they observe. Therefore, for your child to have healthy eating habits, its important that you too have some.