The increasing problem of obesity and other health issues in kids these days is a matter of concern for parents. We all know that kids should eat a healthy and nutritious diet, which will help in their growth and development. Malnutrition, that is lack of enough nutrition, is something many kids suffer from. This deficiency can lead to deformities, slow development of the brain, obesity, slow physical growth, etc. The need of the hour is to ensure that the kids develop good eating habits so that they do not suffer from any diseases or ailments due to the dearth of essential nutrition and nourishment.
Healthy Eating Habits For Kids
There are some basic points that parents should keep in mind to ensure that their children develop a healthy relationship with food. Here are some healthy food habits, which parents can help imbibe in their little ones:
1. Drink Water:
Water is the lifeline when it comes to our bodies. To make all the systems in the body run efficiently, drinking adequate water is a must. You need to teach your kids the importance of drinking adequate amounts of water, which would keep them well hydrated. Since their physical activities are very high at this age, they tend to lose a good amount water by perspiration. So keeping them hydrated is very essential.
2. Eat Breakfast:
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In most homes, school-going kids tend to skip breakfast. But, when they avoid breakfast, they are sure to feel hunger pangs later. And then they will gorge on all the unhealthy foods they can lay their hands on or they will tend to overeat at the next meal. That is why it is important to calmly explain the importance of breakfast to your kids. Giving examples of the adults whom they admire may also help.
3. Eat Slowly And Chew Well:
Eating food in a hurry is something most kids do. Food should be completely chewed so that it gets digested properly. Most kids are also in the habit of gulping down the food in an attempt to eat fast. Gulping down food without chewing it properly can cause indigestion and make their little tummies ache. So, explain to your kids the good and the bad of eating fast or eating food without chewing.
4. Family Meals:
Eating meals with the family not only teaches kids the table manners, but also helps in reducing their fuss over food. Seeing their elders eat the food which they dislike, encourages them to eat it without creating any ruckus. And it also helps inculcate family values and tables manners as well.
5. Healthy Snacks:
Chips, chocolates, candies and instant noodles are the favorite snacks of present day kids. Parents also find these items convenient as no effort has to be put in their preparation or procurement. But these items harm the kids’ little bodies. Parents should make an effort to provide healthy snacks to their kids. Healthy snacks may include fresh fruits and veggies, homemade soups, sandwiches with varied fillings and the like. Effort should also be made to prepare these snacks at home and avoid outside junk food.
6. Avoid Distraction During Meals:
TV, video games, laptops, etc. make a very big distraction for kids. In the desire to get back to watching their favorite cartoon on television, many kids don’t eat properly. They eat less than they should, or they eat slowly with their focus on the screens. Eating slowly is also a problem.
7. Let Them Help You Buy And Cook Food:
Kids learn things very easily when they see things happening in front of them. Taking kids along when buying the groceries creates a curiosity in them for the things they are buying. They will eat those veggies, at least a bite or two without a fuss. Involving them in cooking is also a good idea. They will be more than happy to eat the food which they have helped you to cook. Growing some of your own herbs and veggies also works well with the kids. Kids will obviously be excited to eat those veggies for which they have helped in planting and / or picking.
Tips For Parents:
1. Be Creative:
Anything different and colorful attracts kids. Any well-decorated food items with varied and colorful ingredients are sure to be a hit. Substitute veggies and fruits in the recipes of their favorite junk foods. Use different colorful vegetables to make their favorite sandwich or prepare a highly delicious and colorful vegetable roll or frankie or patties.
2. Don’t Use Food To Reward Or Punish Kids:
Withholding food as a punishment, just doesn’t work. This can be very unhealthy and cause harm to their yet not very efficient digestive systems. When the food is given as a reward for something, then the child tends to eat more of it in the belief that he might not get it again very soon. This leads to overeating.
3. Engage Them In Physical Activities:
Physical activities are sure to make the kids more hungry. This way parents have an opportunity to make them eat small and frequent meals. All the required food and portions can be subtly divided into 4-5 meals throughout the day. This way, the kids get the best of the foods every day.
4. Follow What You Teach:
Kids learn most of their habits from their elders, especially parents and elder siblings. So, it is essential for the parents to follow whatever they teach to their kids about healthy eating habits.When the kids see that a particular rule isn’t just for him, but everyone in the house follows that habit, then he is sure to make it a part of his habits as well. By putting in a little effort and time, you can make your kids eat healthy. And at the same time, don’t forget to teach them table manners as well. How do you teach your kids to eat healthy? Do you have any tips? Share with us in the comments section below.