A rise in childhood obesity has made parents re-look at the diet and food they are feeding their children. Instilling nutritious and healthy eating habits right from the start can support proper growth and development in a child. Hence, for any parent to know what’s right and what’s to be avoided becomes even more important.
Effects of healthy eating in children:
– Stabilises their energy
– Sharpens their mind
– Helps them stay at a normal weight
– Even out their mood
– Make them feel energetic & active
– Reduced risk of obesity, sleeping disorders & metabolic problems early on
Making your child eat healthy food can be an uphill task, but if done right, it not only helps the child develop a healthy relationship with food right from the beginning but also carry the same pattern into adulthood.
Here are few healthy eating habits that you as a parent can get started with right away.
Placing restrictions on food can increase the risk of eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia later in your child’s life. Instead of saying no to food of their liking or banning it completely, talk about the healthy and nutritional effect eating something healthier like fruits, veggies, whole grains can have on their body and overall wellbeing. Remember to reward your child with a smile or a hug every time they choose something healthy over chocolate or an ice cream as it would make them feel more confident about their diet and every once in a while, do let them indulge.
Children are sensitive beings and often tend to take labels given to them by parents seriously. So, if you’d continue to call your child a picky eater, chances are he/she might take the tag seriously and continue to be one even in the future. Therefore, as a parent, it becomes your responsibility to be mindful of how you talk about your child and saying something like, ‘he’s learning to eat veggies’ can instead work wonderfully on their psyche. This would not only make the child believe that they are in control of their food habits but also feel elated about the correct choices they’ve been making thus far.
Making mealtime a pleasant family activity can have a positive impact on your child’s eating habits and overall well-being. This way you, as a parent, can also keep track of what and how much your child is eating and plan the next meal of the day accordingly. Take this opportunity to interact with your child, know about their eating preferences and also teaching them a bit about nutrition and its importance in life.
If your child is a selective eater, and you are worried about their nutrient intake, you need to play smart. Hide veggies in home-made smoothies, sandwiches, pizza or pancakes, to give your child the nutrition they need. Once they start liking the taste, tell them what you added in it to help desensitise them to those foods. And eventually, start putting those veggies on the table during meals, so that they can get used to eating them.
Kids need to be taught which food is to be consumed and around what time. They must not confuse snack time as an opportunity to gorge on candies and colas. Instead, plan the whole day’s meal in consent with them. Place a variety of fruits, vegetables, dips, whole grains and salads on the table during mealtime and allow them to choose. Also, teach them table manners and personal hygiene that they need to follow pre and post every meal. The habit of washing hands before and after will keep your child away from digestive issues.
Children are known to imitate their parents. Therefore, examining your own attitude towards food is vital before teaching your child the importance of healthy eating. Stopping your child from drinking cola and then going ahead and adding spoon after spoon of sugar in your tea/ coffee can result in giving wrong or mixed signals.
The bottom line
These habits will help your child maintain a positive and healthy relationship with food. Let them know that they won’t be forced to eat something they don’t like, as a relaxed child will be more open-minded about trying new foods. And the effort you would put today will set your child up for a lifetime.
If you ever feel you are doing it all wrong, trust us you are not. Keep going! It would be worth it!