Childhood is the time to instill lifelong eating and exercise habits that contribute to good health. Developing healthy eating habits for children is about as easy as herding cats. Bad nutrition affects children’s ability to learn, develop and stay healthy throughout life. It’s been often asked why is it that everything that is good for you tastes bad, yet everything that is bad for you tastes good. Even if you do have the answer, try explaining it to a 6 year old!
Feeding your child a nutritious meal is a challenge to most parents. Sometimes, parents would be successful in feeding their child the right quantity of food but what about the quality? Are you kids getting the required nutrition? Infants and pre-school children are extremely vulnerable and succumb to illnesses when the diet is poor in quality and quantity. So what do we do?
Family, environment, social trends, media, peer pressure and illness or disease affect the food habits of your child. Don’t just blame your kids. Parents are equally responsible for children’s eating habits and table manners. By teaching your child healthy eating habits, and modelling these behaviours in yourself, you can help your child maintain a healthy weight and normal growth. Also, the eating habits your child picks up when they are young will help them maintain a healthy lifestyle when they are adults.
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So here’s are some healthy eating habits and how you can develop them in your children:
- Do not let your child watch TV during meals. Talk about something interesting that will increase your child’s general knowledge or you may even talk about their day at school. Watching television with multiple media cues to eat is considered as a factor in excessive weight gain for children especially in age group of six to seven years.
- Children like to try out different food. Parents should offer a variety of foods including their child’s favourites. They can also try substitutions within the same food group.
- Pre-school children do best with small servings of food offered several times a day because of their smaller capacity and variable appetites. Switch to smaller smarter meals provided to them from time to time.
- Most children eat four to six times a day, which means snacks should be chosen carefully so that it is dense in nutrients and not limited to biscuits, chips, crisps, colas, chocolates, and pastries. Rid the junk food and inculcate the habit of fruiting for snacks.
- Parents can include wholesome snacks like fresh fruits, cheese, raw vegetable sticks, milk, fruit juices, whole grain and gram products and sandwiches.
One crucial point to remember besides the ones mentioned above is to avoid giving any food or drink within 1½ hours of a meal to your child. It does not take much to satisfy a child’s appetite but even small snacks may result in poor eating at meal time. Also, little ones tend to watch and follow their parents’ habits so your healthy eating habits will pass on to your children!
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Imbibing the above habits can be a bit confusing the first time around and it may take time and a good deal of trials and errors, but it is not impossible. Besides, help is never too far away. You may hire the services of a professional nutritionist or dietitian to help you get started on the right path. If you like this article then do like and share. Any thoughts are welcome in the comments section below. Stay healthy, keep fit and keep your kids on the right track to healthy, happy and fit life!