Being a mother, I know the struggle most parents face in making their kids eat a healthy & nutritious diet. I have seen how many parents went berserk during mealtime to feed their kids.
Parents use all kinds of tactics to make children eat. Most common ones are using television, mobile phones, other toys & games while some also resort to rewards or punishment.
If you are one of those parents who are struggling with the eating habits of your child and want to inculcate good eating habits in your kids then you are in the right place.
Further in the article, I am going to present simple and easy methods that can help imbibe good eating habits in kids. I will also talk about the Do’s and Don’ts for good eating habits in children.
- Say NO to mobile/TV during mealtime: Many parents consider TV/mobile phones as a savior as it helps them feed kids especially if the child is a fussy eater. I have seen many people saying ‘My kid would not eat a single bite without watching cartoons on mobile’. However, they don’t realize watching TV/mobile during mealtime is a very harmful trend not only for kids but also for adults over time. There is a high chance that a person tends to overeat if eating and watching media done simultaneously.
Never introduce mobile phones to kids during mealtime in the first place.
If the kid got addicted to the screen time during mealtime then try to distract him/her via stories, and through different activities. Try to reduce screen time gradually.
- Encourage them to eat by themselves: Due to a busy schedule and hectic lifestyle, parents are always in hurry to finish their chores. They do not have enough time and patience to sit with kids and let them eat by themselves.
Kids can only learn if they eat by themselves. Initially, it will create a mess and extra cleaning burden for parents. But trust me, in long run, it will help you in raising an independent child and also save your time.
- Eat Together: I cannot emphasize any enough on this point that eating together as a family at least for a single meal in a day is extremely important. When the family eats together, it not only share the food but also loves, warmth, and care. It also helps in the overall development of the child. Imagine sharing day’s experiences over a dinner table, may it be a kid or a spouse. You know the phrase ‘Family that eats together, stays together’.
- Tell Kids about the benefits of eating healthy food via storytelling: Children are fascinated by stories. Like any other kid, my daughter also loves storytelling sessions and in fact, what I have realized is that she is a natural storyteller. Whenever I have to explain her health benefits of eating vegetables and fruits, I will tell her via stories.
For example, eating carrots is good for our eyesight, I craft small stories to give her a message. In this way, she never forgets the message and happily eats it without making much fuss.
- Include Variety of Food and Vegetables: Try to incorporate as many colors in your food as possible.
If your child is a fussy eater and does not like to eat vegetables and fruits, you can make stuff cheese parathas and uttapam for them. Try to experiment with food to make it more interesting for kids.
Try to include your kid’s favorite food items in your meal plan but do not cook exclusively for them. For example, my daughter has sweet tooth just like her father so I try to include something sweet in our meal plan once in 1-2 days but I also make sure that she eats a proper meal.
It is very important to include immunity-boosting foods in your meal plan.
- Involve Kids in Meal Preparation process: Right from the Grocery shopping till the process of cooking food, include your kid at each step of meal preparation. Involve them in their age-appropriate activities. Kids also feel valued when we ask them for help.
While cooking I always ask my daughter to help and she always helps me wiling and happily.
- Respect your kid’s decision: Just like adults, kids also have liking and disliking towards certain food items. Do not always try to force-feed them. Respect their decision of saying ‘NO.’
- Learn them to Show Gratitude towards Food: We always start our meal by saying thank you to God (Maa Annapurna) for the food which we are having on our plates. My daughter also learns this ritual and she does the same. We also discourage the wastage of food and serve only enough on the plate that we can finish easily.
Always encourage your kid to follow the rituals and tradition which are followed in your household.
Kids will imbibe by seeing their parents. Instead of telling kids what to do and what not to, set an example by creating the right environment in the house about the right things to do.
- Do not let them keep munching throughout the day: Suppose your kid is munching on snacks before dinner, do you think he will have proper dinner?
Definitely not. Make a time table for a meal as well as snacks timing. There should be a gap of a minimum of 1 hr between meal and snack timing.
Conclusion: We keep on hearing from our elders that we have raised 5-6 children in our time and we did not get to know what they were eating throughout the day. But today it is not easy even to feed a single child.
Busy lifestyle and nuclear family structure further add to our woes. But trust me it is not that difficult. Start by taking baby steps.
Most important, we are role models for our kids. So, we can imbibe healthy eating habits in kids by showing them our example. You can read more about healthy eating habits here.
I would love to hear about your experiences. Do share your experience in the comment box.
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