When it comes to food, young children can become fussy and getting them to eat healthy and nutritious meals can be an extremely arduous task. Developing good eating habits and disciplining children when they are very young helps a lot in this regard.
- Below are 7 steps that you can follow to create good and healthy eating habits in young children.
- 1. Plan a schedule
- 2. Different meal plans for different family members
- 3. Introduce new foods with patience
- 4. Getting your kids involved in Menu planning
- 5. Reduce Junk food
- 6. The Saturday cheat day
- 7. Parents being role models.
Below are 7 steps that you can follow to create good and healthy eating habits in young children.
1. Plan a schedule
Children need to have the right amount food and fluids in their body to maintain good energy levels. It is imperative that you plan their breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack timings and menu in advance. Breakfast is the first and the most important meal of the day, so ensure that it has a lot of fibre and nutrients.
The main meals should contain whole grains, brown rice, chappatis, vegetables, fruits, chicken or fish and pulses. Try to encourage eating healthy foods like roasted nuts and dried fruits for snacks. Soups, salads and yogurt can accompany the main dishes.
2. Different meal plans for different family members
If you have a small family then this is an easy task. With the help of a certified nutritionist, you could plan healthy meals specially catering to each member of your family. However, if you have a large family then having different meal plans can be cumbersome. In times like this, some middle ground should be found and a wide variety of food (with the necessary spices), should be served so that everyone’s dietary needs is taken care of. This will encourage children to try new food.
3. Introduce new foods with patience
Remember forcing a child to eat vegetables will only help build his resistance for the same. Children take time to get accustomed to new foods. They should have ideally tried it out around 10- 12 times before they start liking it. So patience is the key.
4. Getting your kids involved in Menu planning
Children always love to experiment. When your children are involved in planning and cooking, it is highly likely that they will eat what they cook. Young children could help in making the salads, fruit juices etc. while older kids could help in cutting vegetables, making fresh smoothies, baking etc.
5. Reduce Junk food
Do not order food from restaurants even if you are short on time and cannot prepare a fully fledged meal. There are plenty of resources that you can find online that will help you cook healthy, nutritious and tasty family meals in less than 10 minutes. For more information see here.
6. The Saturday cheat day
Keep one day aside where you as a family can go out to a restaurant or a fast food joint and eat a healthy (or maybe not so healthy) meal together. This cheat day will help reduce food craving in young children as the forbidden fruit is now not so forbidden.
7. Parents being role models.
Remember children are great observers and imitators. Parents need to cultivate healthy food habits and maintain it. Your children will just follow the role model they see.
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