“We become what we eat” – This line aptly interprets the importance of our foods in our life. Healthy eating habits help us to maintain a healthy body and protect us from developing serious diseases like obesity, blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol etc. Not only that, but our foods control our mood also to some extent. So, as parents, it is our duty to help our children to grow a healthy food habit for a healthy and happy life. If learnt as a child, good eating habits are most likely to stay with us lifelong. Besides, as childhood is the time when growth and development are in full swing, good nutrition is essential.
Around us, we can listen to many moms complaining about the bad eating habits of their children. But parents can influence the children very easily in adopting good eating habits from a young age. For this, we have to follow some easy rules regularly.
ENJOY MEALTIME TOGETHER:
Eating meals together as a family has many benefits for children. A family dinner provides the opportunity to connect with each other after a busy day. We can exchange our experiences and thoughts during mealtime. Children feel loved and secure and tend to eat more vegetables and healthy foods when all the members of the family enjoy the meal together. They don’t show tantrums to consume all types of foods served on the table. They also learn to eat independently from an early age.
INTRODUCE DIFFERENT COLORS AND FLAVORS:
We should make our children familiar with various colors and flavors of foods from an early age. Kids like different colors on their plates, so we should prepare balanced meals and snacks with colorful fruits and vegetables. To add variety, let your children be familiarised with flavors of different cultures and cuisines. It will enrich their taste buds, and they will grow an appreciation for different types of foods.
PROVIDE DISTRACTION-FREE MEALTIME:
We have to ensure a distraction-free mealtime to grow healthy eating habits in our children. Television, phones, and toys should be kept away so that their full concentration would be on food. Research shows that children who watch television during mealtime consume either decreased or increased amount of food. Because participating in the eating process is important to make the body understand how much is needed to be full. At the same time, when we enjoy our food with complete focus on it, we get maximum nutrition from it. On the other hand, if we allow kids distractions to complete their food, they tend to continue issues with eating habits.
If we eat food at the same time every day, then we get hungry at that time of day. So we have to follow a fixed mealtime for our children to have a better appetite. In fact, kids should have healthy snack time in order to get a continuous energy supply. A healthy eating routine can’t be completed without regular meals and snacks. But we have to be careful about the amount of snacks because too many snacks can kill the appetite for the main meal.
Forcing a child to consume his portion of food never helps to grow up good food habits. He may not have the same appetite every day, and forced eating can cause unhealthy weight gain. Forcing children to eat food makes the mealtime an unpleasant incident, and as a result, children become picky eaters. We should let our children decide how much to eat so that they don’t grow an aversion to food. Positive experiences about foods in early life help a child to grow good food habits for life.
DON’T SKIP BREAKFAST:
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it gives us the energy to jumpstart a busy day. A good and healthy breakfast can refresh our mood by removing fatigue and hunger and helps us to remain active for a long time. We must teach our children not to exclude breakfast from their morning routine ever. Even before sending them school in the morning, we should give our children a solid breakfast. From maintaining weight to providing energy for study, work, and play – the importance of breakfast should be kept in mind always to build healthy eating habits for life.
ADD MORE HEALTHY FOOD TO THE DIET:
We know at the growing stage children need the right kind and amount of nutrition for the proper development of the brain and body. So their diet should include a sufficient amount of vegetables, cereals, fruits, and nuts. Gradually, they start enjoying them and consider them as an inevitable part of their diet. In addition to this, we have to teach them the nutritional values of iron, vitamins, minerals, and fibers from a younger age.
ENCOURAGE TO DRINK A LOT OF WATER:
Not only adults but kids also need plenty of water to stay healthy and active. Drinking enough water is the most important rule to maintain proper health and nutrition. From digestion to flushing out the wastes from the body, water plays a vital role in our diet. Drinking water before or during a meal can prevent overeating also. If parents drink a lot of water, kids imitate them and increase water consumption automatically.
Parents can play a vital role in developing healthy eating habits in children. We can influence the children by following the same rules ourselves and by providing a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain products. Washing hands before meals, chewing well, eating slowly – parents should be careful about all these habits of children. Besides, how frequently we provide junk foods to our children determines their eating habits a lot.
Mom, if you are facing problems in feeding your infant, you can go through this post .