Every other kid happens to be a ‘picky eater’ – that being a constant woe of all the parents. This article deals with some of the effective techniques that can help parents and especially mothers to raise healthy and happy eaters.
An environment conducive for kids healthy eating choices is the first and foremost thing to ensure better health of the child. Foster a supportive environment to develop a positive relationship with nutritious food. Parents can adopt the method of setting by example for starters. Here are a few tips that can engage your child into healthy eating habits.
- Pick and Choose
It is important that your child gets to choose his meal among healthy options given to him. Placing a restriction on food is not really helpful and in fact it may have negative impacts like bulimia or anorexia later in life.
Hence, let the child choose and give him/her options between various healthy foods such as fruits, veggies, whole wheat grain or lean meats and dairy products. One healthy option that he picks and chooses will ease his way into good eating habits.
- Easy access to Healthy Options
When a child comes back home after his play, with a rumbling tummy, he will make a bee line for the first thing he can get his hands on to eat. For this reason, make sure you have something healthy kept within his eye sight. Like a bowl of fruit cut and kept instead of it lying uncut in one nasty corner of the fridge. For your own snack, pick an apple up, kids tend to learn more by watching and so set an example whenever you can.
- Enlighten the child
Doing well in class or sports is important to every child. Attach the advantages of eating healthy to these essentials that the child will understand and get attracted and motivated.
Explain him/her how protein and dairy products are necessary to build strength for physical activities and how it helps in sports. Vitamins and antioxidants of the fruits and veggies keep skin and hair full of shine and lustre, and eating a healthy wholesome breakfast will enable them to focus better in class. When the child knows why he is being coaxed to eat healthy, he will adopt a better eating practice more willingly.
- A clap and an encouragement
Children thrive in praises. We all do. However small and silly it may be. So, the next time your child picks up a fruit instead of a creamy biscuit, praise him with a proud smile.
- Avoid nagging about unhealthy choices of your child.
While a positive approach and praises work with a child, a negative attitude and nagging the child when he eats unhealthy will not work and in fact might just make matters worse.
What one can do when a child chooses fried fatty and unhealthy food is, redirect them by giving them healthier substitutes to those items. eg. instead of buying deep fried fries, try roasting cut potatoes in an oven at home, if your child craves a candy, substitute that with a fresh strawberry dipped in a little chocolate sauce which will thus satisfy his sweet crave.
- Bonus and reward.
A reward for good eating should never be a foot item itself. eg ‘If you eat healthy, I will buy you a candy’, is not an option and neither a solution. This leads to weight issues later in life and any which way when a reward is again something unhealthy, it has only added to a problem instead of nullifying it. Try giving other bonuses such as a trip to the park or a quick game from one of his favourites.
- Be a family that eats together.
If eating together is not a tradition in your family, make it one. If it’s not a habit, then make a gradual change like once a week and then move up to three to four times a week. It is a proven fact that children who sit at the table and have a meal with their parents and siblings grow up into healthier and happier adults and have way higher nutritional bodies.
They may be picky in the beginning but with a steady habit they will watch each one at the table and start eating and experimenting with all sorts of healthy food laid during a meal for the family.
- A word with the paediatrician
Before making any major changes to the child’s eating areas, pay a visit to his/her paediatrician and take a view. Oftentimes as parents we are quick to judge a child over weight or under weight. Everything is about gradual changes and especially when it concerns a child.
Once a child steps out of his home, he is far more accessible to unhealthy and larger servings as compared to what you will serve him at home. And so, make your child food smart because that is what will protect him/her for a lifetime.