Helping child develop healthy eating habits

 Helping child develop healthy eating habits

It’s not difficult to understand that child nutrition is important and teaching children healthy eating habits goes a long way for them. Maintaining healthy weight and nutritional intake can help them prevent lifestyle diseases later in life. It can help them control weight and build immunity early to fight diseases and infections.

When the child is growing up, his nutritional needs change with every passing year. He needs mix of every nutrient to grow, in terms of height, weight and immunity. His paediatrician can help in telling what the child needs and what deficiency he’s dealing with. Based on that, you can make the needed dietary changes for him. The idea is to teach him portion control and cut on excess sugar and carbs.
Another thing to keep in mind here is that you have to start early with kids. You can expect to take it positively once they have moved on from their formative years—first five to seven years. Also, keep in mind what he likes and what’s his physical activity level.

Leading by example is the first step towards developing healthy eating in children Rather than announcing it to your child what he’s supposed to eat, guide your family too towards healthy eating. When the child sees everyone eating healthy, he knows that he too is supposed to eat the same. Also, make sure you make variety of healthy food, so you know your child’s taste and liking. If he likes fruit over dairy, you can include more of it than dairy. Make sure you eat the same thing with him; children learn by example. Healthy role modelling is the key here.

Encourage children to eat slowly for proper nutrition To make sure that they learn to register fullness and hunger properly, it’s important to teach them to eat slowly. So, in a way before you give them second serving or if they demand for it, they know whether or not they actually need it. In fact, it’s fine to give them a break of 5 minutes between first and second serving. They need to know for sure how hungry they are in order to not overeat and avoid wastage. You can keep the second serving comparatively smaller and restricted to veggies.

Make meals a healthy family time Try to have your meals together than making your child sit alone and eat before you. If needed you tweak your mealtime to match it with your child. Make it happy, positive and little bit conversational. Don’t use this time to scold him or argue with each other. It can impact his nutrition; he may start associating the mealtime with stress. This can make him eat faster or eat less, in any case it’s not good for his nutrition.

Limit screen-time specially during or around meal time This is one of the worst habits kids are developing these days. Children as young as one year old are habitual of eating with phones and TV in front of them. Experts believe that this type of eating doesn’t count under mindful eating. It may not give your child complete nutrition even if he completes the whole portion because his focus is not food but on his screen.  Usually, parents find it difficult to get their child away from this habit. So, start early. Make it a rule. Tell them to get involved in conversations rather than watching shows. You can award them with an hour of screen-time if they eat and finish their meal properly.

Don’t use food as reward or punishment for proper child nutrition Making the child stay without food as punishment can be detrimental for their health. They will think that they might have to go to bed hungry and thus, try to eat whatever is they get. This can lead to unnecessary calorie intake and unhealthy eating. Also, if you reward them with food specially with candies and chocolate, they might value it more than healthy food. So, eliminate the whole idea of using food as bait or punishment.

Involve your child in grocery shopping with you When they grow to the age of three to four, you can start taking them out with you for grocery shopping occasionally. They idea is to only teach them that in the store full of food, what can be more nutritional and healthier. It can also give you a chance to know their preferences and tastes. These days, grocery and department stores have live kitchen too. It can be interesting for your child to try new food there and in fact start to like what they didn’t like before.

Don’t kill the snack time, add more fibre and protein in it Snacks are not only unhealthy so don’t kill the snack time all together. In fact, add fruits, oats and shakes for snacks. This won’t kill their mealtime hunger and will also keep them full. Fuller tummies keep children happier else they get cranky. Another thing to keep in mind here is that occasionally, you child can have fried and unhealthy snacks like noodles, burgers and cutlets. Sometimes, treats are also required, and it doesn’t make them sensitive towards these foods. Yes, you can make sure that these are home cooked.

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