Medically reviewed by Shanmukha Priya, M.Phil and Ph.D. in Food Science and Nutrition
As a parent, it becomes imperative that you encourage your children to eat healthy from the beginning.
It is understandable that giving in to a tantrum for a bag of chips is the easiest thing to do, but if you hold strong, you can actually guide them to the right behaviour and healthy eating pattern.
It is alarming the way obesity in children is getting as common as obesity in adults.
The main causes of this unhealthy eating habits and absence of serious physical activity.
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While it is a good idea to encourage your children to be active, the most important aspect is to encourage them to eat healthily.
If you have a child prone to gaining excess weight, you can check with a nutritionist or a certified dietitian to work out the right nutrition for your child.
Here are 10 ways you can encourage your child to pick up the right food and enjoy eating healthy:
1] Set a healthy eating example
Charity begins at home, so do good habits. Your children mimic what you do, so it is a good idea to eat healthy yourself first.
Healthy eating should include healthy snacks with fruits and vegetables and portion control.
2] Guide your family to eat healthily
Many kids do not like to be forced into eating many vegetables or certain dishes. So avoid forcing them to eat things they don’t like.
Instead, offer them options with healthy ingredients mixed in the dishes. Maybe you can encourage them to try different flavours, and experiment with different types of cuisines.
3] Give them healthy snack options
Pick baked veggie sticks over French fries. Your children will eat the same things that they see you eating. Sliced fruits and nuts also make excellent snacks.
You can give them home-made baked chips instead of store-bought, oily ones.
4] Cut down on excess sugar
Avoid giving your children artificially sweetened drinks. Cut down on the teaspoons of sugar you use in their food.
For those with the sweet tooth, you can introduce jaggery and honey as a way to quench their cravings.
5] Accept intuitive eating
Indian parenting style involves kids being force-fed or made to eat even when the children refuse to eat or say they are full.
Research shows that children are smart enough to recognise their body’s natural signals and eat or do not eat based on their natural body clock instead of the eating schedule forced by the parents.
Respect their natural instincts. Such children are rarely hungry and often have a healthy weight (even if he or she looks skinny to you).
6] Go for portion control
If your child is overweight then it is a good idea to encourage portion control. Control your child from taking second helpings, especially of desserts.
Instead, let them have small meals and healthy snacks in between. Try for three big meals with three snacks in between.
7] Teach healthy eating manners
Try to eat together as a family at the dining table on a regular basis. Eating with a device or in front of the TV should be a strict no-no. Encourage them to eat slowly and in smaller mouthfuls.
Tell them to enjoy and experience the flavours of the food. Discuss the kind of taste they are getting as they eat. It allows you to bond and enjoys your meals together.
8] Go grocery shopping with your child
Let your small children also have to say in the kind of vegetables you pick at the store. Even children as small as three enjoy picking up the veggies from the stalls under instruction.
This way you teach them about the fruits and vegetables and also how good they are for your health.
9] Let them drink water as much as possible
Instead of giving them sodas or juices with meals, give them fruit or lemon infused water to wash down their food.
It helps balance the moisture in their body and aids in digestion
10] Don’t punish or reward children for eating food
Don’t punish your child for eating unhealthy; instead, guide them to the right set of food to pick.
Let them eat so-called junk food once in while so that they do not crave it in excess. You don’t have overly praise your child when he or she pick up healthy food.
Make it seem natural. You can show little appreciation but nothing more than that. To learn more about healthy diet plans, check out what Possible has to offer.