Most families these days rarely get a chance to sit down and savour a homemade meal on a daily basis due to busy schedules to get all the work done.
A child’s diet is inconvenienced due to lack of proper preparation or consuming a lot of takeout/ready-to-eat food, which can be unhealthy. This tends to have a negative effect on the health of the child, over time, when homemade food is offered to a child, they refuse to eat it and develop a particular taste for snacks or junk food, making them a fussy eater.
Here are a few tips you could follow to teach kids healthy food habits:
The food label reading game
Put out a list of food ingredients which are part of the meal. Introduce the whole family to this game by making them read out the contents and its nutritional value. This will help them learn what’s good for their health and also make them more conscious of what they eat.
Setting an example for your child
If you prepare a meal at home which includes meat or vegetables, make sure to consume them yourself with your kids. Tell them a story on how eating such foods while growing up, made you strong. Avoid any negative comments; the same attitude can be picked up by your child.
Stock an array of healthy food items and keep them stored at home. Avoid purchasing unhealthy snacks like chips, soda, juice, etc. This practice will help your child pick out healthier options, without forcing them to do so, eventually making it a habit.
Eat meals as a family, at least twice a day:
Inculcate a habit of sitting down together as a family and spend at least two meals together (such as breakfast and dinner). Refrain from arguing or scolding at the dinner table, make the experience as pleasant as you can, converse and share moments experienced during the day.
This will also help your child to open up to you on other issues; they will also be less stressful while eating.
A trip to the supermarket
We all know how excited children get when taking them to the supermarket. Make sure to involve your children in shopping for food and preparing meals. These activities will give you an idea about your child’s preferences. Helping out in the kitchen will also make the child more willing to eat what they help prepare.
Fix snacks timings
Continuous snacking may lead to overeating, but snacks that are planned at specific times during the day can be part of a nutritious diet, without spoiling a child’s appetite. You should make snacks as nutritious as possible, without depriving your children of occasional chips or cookies.
The author is a dietician at Fortis Hospital, Kalyan