For many parents, the battle to get their children to eat healthy food feels like an uphill struggle. It seems as though kids have a natural aversion to anything that is green or nutritious. However, research shows that this picky eating behaviour may actually be more common than we think. While it is easy for parents to feel frustrated or concerned when their child refuses vegetables or fruits, it is important to remember that this behaviour is developmentally normal and often transient. By offering a variety of flavours and textures on the plate and involving children in meal planning or preparation processes, you can cultivate excitement around healthy eating from an early age. Moreover, inculcating healthy eating habits in the child can help with his/her growth and development.
Let’s look at some of the vital eating measures that you can take as parents to ensure the child is eating a well-balanced diet.
How can I encourage my child to eat a balanced diet?
1. Organise eating patterns for children
To maintain optimal nutrition and prevent mood swings in children, it is crucial to create a structured eating routine consisting of three meals, two snacks, and sufficient fluid intake every three to four hours. By proactively planning for these regular nourishment breaks, you can ensure your child’s diet remains balanced while minimising their fuss.
2. Prepare balanced meals
Don’t feel pressured to create elaborate dinners, focus on achieving balance instead. Include whole-grain options like bread, rice, vegetables and protein that is cheese, or beans.
3. Refrain from passing judgement on your kids’ eating behaviour
Aim to maintain a neutral stance and avoid making remarks about the types or quantities of food they consume. Remember that you have fulfilled your role as a parent by serving nutritious meals, and it is now up to your children to decide what they eat. If you assume the role of a food dictator by constantly instructing them to finish their vegetables, you will likely encounter opposition from your child.
4. Take it slow when introducing new foods to children
It is natural for kids to have an aversion to unfamiliar flavours. I always remind my kids that sometimes their taste buds need time to adapt before they can appreciate the taste of certain foods. If you believe that your child is not receiving adequate nutrients, discuss it with your paediatrician right away.
5. Be creative with toppings
Add excitement to nutritious meals by getting creative with toppings.The kids will be happy and will surely engage in eating healthy foods.
6. Foster your kids’ culinary skills
Do so by involving your children in the process of choosing or preparing meals, their interest in consuming what they’ve contributed will grow. Take them on a trip to the supermarket where they can hand-pick produce items for you. If they’re of an appropriate age, grant them permission to slice up vegetables and incorporate them into a salad. This way, they will develop an interest in cooking as well as eating
7. Treat them with their favourite foods
They should be allowed to eat their favourite foods such as pizzas, burgers, fries, chips, or cakes once in a while. Take the help of an expert who can guide you regarding how to help the kids develop a positive approach toward eating well.
With these tips in mind, you might be able to help your kid develop good eating habits. If your kid is still not eating healthy, consult a paediatrician to check if there is an underlying problem.