A child’s relationship with food begins early. As a parent, you have a strong role to play in laying down a solid foundation for proper eating habits that will stay with the child throughout his or her life. While you can only control what a child will eat for the first few years of their lives, healthy eating habits developed in this period will last them a lifetime. Here are some handy tips to ensure the right nutrition for kids.
1. Structure Balanced Meals
It is important that you structure meals to make sure that they offer a balanced diet for children. A healthy eating plate needs to be a mix of:
- 40-50% veggies
- 20-25% proteins
- 25-30% whole grain products
- 5-10% fats
It is important that the child be taught that healthy nutrition means intake of a variety of foods that contain different nutrients. To ensure that they do not get bored, it is advisable that you alternate between different foods within a food group
2. Avoid Processed Foods
Right Nutrition for kids involves choosing whole foods as opposed to processed ones. In fact make it a point to shop for food with your child & opt for whole grains, fresh veggies, fruits & more. When buying processed food, make it a habit to study the label so as to be able to keep an eye on the amount of sugar & salt you are consuming. Growing up, this will become a habit for the child too, one that his body will thank him for. If you indulge in this ritual with the child, soon enough you will find the child picking up healthier options on her own.
3. Make Mornings Count
The importance of breakfast as a meal cannot be overstated. Yet this is one meal that we tend to skip in the morning rush hour. A good health tip for the child is to make sure that the child does not skip breakfast In fact, this is one meal where you can easily add fiber, that we don’t seem to get enough of during the day.
4. Expose Your Child to New Food
If your child does not want to try new food, the trick is not to give up. It could take between 10 to 15 introductions for a child to like it. A word of caution here, it will be counterproductive to introduce too many new foods too fast.
5. Avoid Power Struggles
It is very important to avoid power struggles during meal times. In fact, authoritarian rules about what to eat can only go that far. Instead, it works far better if you are able to explain the rationale behind why you want the child to eat a particular food. Similarly, while you cut back on junk food, ensure it isn’t totally forbidden as it will tend to seem even more tempting to the child. Instead, allow treats in moderation. Vacation times or special occasions are great opportunities to indulge the child’s taste buds. Other than that you can also designate cheat days in advance so that the child looks forward to them and can plan his menu in advance.
6. Eat Together
As they say, the family that eats together stays together. When planning meals for the family, it will help to pick dishes that are enjoyed by all members. The answer to how to make kids eat is also to offer choices between healthy alternatives. Additionally, if the food on the table is colorful & attractive, the chances of the child taking to it are that much more. In fact, choosing to cook together can also be a great opportunity to tell the child about different foods and ensure a balanced diet for children. Watching video recipes together and trying to recreate them, for example, can be a great way to spark interest. Above everything ensure meal times are pleasant and that you avoid topics such as a failed exam or a missed lesson.
With some effort, ensuring the right nutrition for kids will be a piece of cake! Here’s to building many happy memories over those delicious meals!