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Nutrition and healthy eating habits

 

Feeding children with nutritious food and inculcating healthy eating habits in them is the top most priority for almost all parents. However, parents are finding promoting healthy eating with their children a big challenge. Many a times parents have to helplessly watch their child being pulled towards unhealthy eating options, which include their all time favourite varieties of junk foods, processed foods, eatables and drinks containing high sugar content to enlist a few.

 

Healthy eating can stabilize children’s energy, sharpen their minds, and even out their moods. By encouraging healthy eating habits now, you can make a huge impact on your children’s lifelong relationship with food and give them the best opportunity to grow into healthy, confident adults.

 

Children develop a natural preference for the foods they enjoy the most, so the challenge is to make healthy choices appealing. The childhood impulse to imitate is strong, so it’s important you act as a role model for your kids. It’s no good asking your child to eat fruit and vegetables while you gorge on potato chips and soda.

 

  • Have regular family meals. Respect the meal times. Let it be a bonding time with no other distractions
  • Breakfast is another great time for a family meal, especially since kids who eat breakfast tend to do better in school. Ensure that your child never skips breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day.
  • Cook more meals at home. Save dining out for special occasions.
  • Get kids involved. Children enjoy helping adults to shop for groceries, selecting what goes in their lunch box, and preparing dinner. It’s also a chance for you to teach them about the nutritional values of different foods, and (for older children) how to read food labels.
  • Make a variety of healthy snacks available instead of empty calorie snacks. Keep plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks, and healthy beverages (water, milk, pure fruit juice) around and easily accessible so kids become used to reaching for healthy snacks.
  • Limit portion sizes. Don’t insist your child cleans the plate, and never use food as a reward or bribe.
  • Picky eaters are going through a normal developmental stage, exerting control over their environment and expressing concern about trusting the unfamiliar. Many picky eaters also prefer a “separate compartmented plate,” where one type of food doesn’t touch another.

 

It takes most children 8-10 presentations of a new food before they will openly accept it. Patience is the key in achieving success with picky eaters.[break]
Toddlers can be introduced to new tastes and textures as they transition from baby food to “real” food. Keep in mind that toddlers have very small stomachs. It may be better to feed them 5-6 small meals a day, rather than three large ones. Ensure a balance of proteins, complex carbohydrates, good fats and enough fibre in the meals.
Add variety – which means variety in fruits, vegetables, milk products etc. as different foods have different set of nutrients.
Think of exercise as a food group in your kid’s diet

 

Add physical activity to your child’s day, just as you would add fruit or veggies. To encourage physical activity, play with your kids – throw around a football; go cycling, skating, or swimming; take family walks and hikes; and help your kids find activities they enjoy by showing them different possibilities. The benefits of lifelong exercise are abundant and regular exercise can even help motivate your kids to make healthy food choices.

 

Be a role Model. Children mimic parents, so eat healthy to set an example. Think like a child: to understand our children we have to think like them and only then can we connect and appreciate them. Nothing can stop a parent to inculcate values around healthy eating in the child except their own lack of enthusiasm, creativity and most importantly patience to enjoy the process.