No child is ever born to like chips, french fries, and cakes, yet, their taste preferences get influenced by the kind of exposure they get while growing up. TV commercials play a significant role in tempting kids to eat junk food. Other factors are peer pressure, birthday parties, and dinner outings with family, which spoil the eating habits of innocent kids.
Do you know why it is so essential for your child to eat healthily?
Well, food is directly linked not just with physical fitness but also with mental wellbeing and emotional wellbeing. Healthy eating not only keeps your child healthy but also keeps mental disorders like depression and anxiety at bay.
If your child has developed unhealthy eating habits, you can reprogram their mind to create healthy eating habits. The sooner you introduce them to healthy eating habits, the stronger your child’s relationship with food gets.
Here is what you must do to develop healthy eating habits in kids
What kids observe you doing, they will surely do it at some point or the other. So, building healthy eating habits is easier than you thought it to be.
1. Let healthy food be a family choice.
Often parents take the liberty of satiating their taste buds with delicious treats while they want their kids to eat healthily. Do you think your kids will learn to eat healthy this way?
The first step towards healthy eating has to start with parents. As parents, you have to ensure to have proper mealtimes every day.
You have to bring the practice of eating meals together as a family. When the entire family eats the same healthy meals together, your kids will automatically pick-up healthy eating habits in due course.
Moreover, when kids eat with their parents right from the beginning, the habit of eating healthy food gets deeply ingrained in their consciousness.
2. Don’t use food as rewards
Parents have a tendency to reward kids with their favourite food like chocolates, pastries, or cookies when they fulfil the given task. It is the wrong initiative of rewarding kids with junk and sweets on performing well.
The kids brain rewire itself to enjoying treats and treating them as safe food as it is given by their parents. And, they start craving for such delicious but unhealthy treats often.
3. Avoid force-feed
Always serve the kids with small servings. The servings can be repeated as desired. Usually, as kids grow up, their appetite fluctuates. They may not be able to eat as much as they usually do sometimes.
So, following the practice of a clean plate is good, but don’t always force-feed your kids to clean their dishes if they are full. This is why the method of small servings is beneficial and also checks to overeat.
4. Enhance your cooking skills
You, as a parent, should always try new delicious recipes to encourage kids to eat healthily. ‘Healthy food is boring’ is a long-standing concept, but, nowadays YouTube is bombarded with healthy recipe channels these days.
There are many recipes that are delicious and yet are super healthy. There are various combinations of salads, paneer based snack recipes, soups, juices, vegetable recipes, that are incredibly satiating to the palate and yet are healthy.
Always look for grains like maize, oats, barley, ragi, etc. to experiment with recipes. These grains are much healthier and must be used as a staple diet.
5. Cook more meals at home
Usually, every family eats out twice a week. The practice of eating outside food is further increasing with food delivery services everywhere. At times, when you run short of vegetables, or when your kids are insisting on ordering something from outside, you end up doing it.
You will never be able to stop your kids from eating outside if you don’t get into the discipline of eating at home. Completely refraining from eating out is not required, but let eating out be once in 15 days affair.
Another challenge that comes with working parents is that the mother often gets tired while working at the office. And, she usually doesn’t have the stamina of cooking meals every day at home. In such situations, there is a natural tendency to eat outside food as cooking meals every day is not possible.
It is rather advisable to hire a helping hand or a cook to help you prepare meals every day. The more meals you cook at home, the less your kids will eat outside.
7. Introduce a variety
Let even junk food be home-cooked for kids, as that would be a lot healthier than outside food. Try making pasta, burgers, french fries, shakes at home, once in a week. Let your kids have something special every weekend. This will reduce their cravings for outside food to a great extent.
You can also make chaats like pani puris, aloo tikki chaats, fruit custard, cheese grilled sandwiches, noodles, at home.
8. Encourage kids to participate in cooking
Of course, fire-based cooking is not for kids, but they can always be encouraged to get involved in non-fire cooking. Preparing simple snacks like making chatpati aloo chat, moori mixture, garden sandwich, or tasty Monaco treats garnished with veggies and cheese is a fun activity for kids.
When kids put in the effort of making snacks on their own, they tend to relish it better. Moreover, you can involve kids in regular meal preparation like peeling potatoes, washing vegetables, peeling peas, or making small balls of dough to roll them into rotis, etc.
These small activities will encourage your kids’ interest in cooking. And, they will relish the recipes better in which they have contributed.
9. Buy more veggies and fruits
A lot of times, you end up going to your favourite restaurant, because you have run out of vegetables and fruits. You must buy fruits and vegetables more frequently to ensure there is enough stock to cook at home every day.
Also, make sure to serve green salad containing cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, to kids before lunch. Let your kids get into the habit of eating raw vegetables and fruits. Fresh vegetables and fruits provide a lot of nutrition, and they are also called as healing food.
Healthy eating is a lifestyle change that starts with parents. One important measure that you can take here is to curb the exposure of TV to kids, or you can selectively play some cartoons on your TV via your phone. This will make sure that your kids are not exposed to unnecessary tempting adds on food showing burgers, pizzas, and chocolates.
Another important measure is to avoid sugary drinks like cold drinks and other beverages that are readily available in the market. Instead, you can prepare some homemade beverages and desserts for your kids.
Kids will eventually reflect on what they are made to learn at home. Be assured that healthy habits will help your kids grow up to follow a healthy lifestyle.