My neighbour spends hours at the window every day showing birds to her son while trying to coax him to eat his vegetables. The little boy is a picky eater and both his parents are constantly worried about his eating habit. Another worry is, how to get this fussy eating child to eat healthy foods. Food habits of children are often a worry for parents. Although some methods of getting children to eat healthy are a bit of trial and error, there are some sure shot ways that parents can adopt when their children are young to ensure that over time their children not only become less fussy about their food but also start eating healthy.
Children do not know what food is healthy and what is not. They learn that through observation. Parents, therefore, need to ensure that they are eating healthy. If children see their parents eating junk food or skipping meals, they grow up thinking that sort of behaviour is normal. Parents also need to ensure that less junk food comes into the house so that there is less temptation for everyone. Parents often complain about children not wanting to try new foods. Research has shown that new food has to be offered a number of times before children get interested in it. Also, if parents themselves eat new foods in front of their children, chances are that children will be more open to trying new foods themselves.
Often, getting children involved in making meals gets them excited about eating what they have created. Taking them to the market and getting them to pick up vegetables and fruits also has the same result. Children, like being involved in the decision-making process and allowing them to choose foods, pushes them to try those foods.
Also, Read 8 food items your kids can help you cook.
Parents should try not to constantly comment on the food being eaten at mealtimes by their children. They should also not harass their children to eat their vegetables and other healthy foods while at a meal. Harassing children about eating something usually makes them want to resist it. It is the parents’ responsibility to serve a balanced meal and it is the children’s responsibility to eat everything. And, with time, children usually learn to do just that.
Making food attractive and interesting is another way parents can get children to eat food that is healthy. Cutting food into interesting shapes, using colourful foods, including dips in meals and adding garnishes to food are some simple and easy ways of making healthy food more attractive. Parents can include shakes and baked food such as wheat muffins in meals. They not only make meals more interesting but are also a great way to introduce fruits and fibre into them. Parents should allow their children an occasional treat of less healthy food. These treats prevent such foods from becoming forbidden and thus, more attractive.
The great thing about teaching children to eat foods that are healthy is that while troublesome in the beginning, once it becomes a habit, eating healthy foods stays with children throughout their lives. Teaching children to eat healthy foods also gets parents on track with their eating habits. So, overall, it is a win-win situation.
Also Read: Ways to have a well-balanced diet plan to know more about the importance of a well-balanced diet plan for kids as told by Dr Anjali.