It becomes a tricky task at times to teach children to eat well. As a parent, you play an essential role in shaping your children’s eating habits. The family environment provides a significant influence on where meals take place and the types of foods children eat. Inculcating positive thought processes about food at an early stage may help your children evolve healthy eating habits later in life. 
Children should know that every food they put into their bodies affects them. Without adequate nutrition, they need to know that there can be no growth and development – physically or mentally. And if they aren’t able to learn in the initial early development years (till 8-9 years), they remain diminutive for life.
And it’s parents, who have to do that job of putting all those healthy food habits into the mind of children and also making them understand why it matters and by what ways they can learn to make the healthiest choice.

Involve the child in meal planning & preparation :

  • Let kids of all ages be a part of planning, shopping for and preparing meals. They form a part of essential life skills that can help us eat well.
  • Children like to eat the foods they help their parents to prepare.
  • Cooking together is enhances the connectivity and have fun time!
  • Cooking also teaches about food safety like reminding children to wash their hands before and after preparing food, wash vegetables and fruit before eating, `and not mix ready-to-eat foods with foods that need to be cooked

Make it a routine and not just a rule : 

Make healthy foods a must choice as a part of your family’s meals. Always get the child to choose some nutritious, tasty options. This will instigate children to new foods and give parents a chance to be role models for healthy eating. 

Keep mealtime conversations positive – no arguing or lecture:

  • The focus should be put on enjoying each other’s company, rather on what or how much child is eating.
  • During conversations about healthy eating, never focus on weight or dieting
  • Turn on some music or have some chill out conversation. 
  • Encourage children to talk about their day. This helps to enhance more communication between family members.

Avoid calling foods good or bad:

Every child needs to understand that all foods have a place in their diet. Better would be to label foods as go, slow, or Whoa rather called them good or bad . Foods like fruits and vegetables should be taken every day so should be labelled as “GO” and “slow down” should be with less healthy foods like chips, noodles etc. Minor nutrition foods, such as French fries, burger don’t need to be off-limits, but children should think twice before eating them and should often stop.

Be a role model:

Until we don’t eat well, we can’t teach healthy eating habits to children. Children follow the footprints of the adults they see every day. If you push your children to eat something in a healthy diet that you have never touched, you might need to take a closer look at your diet first. Every food parents take matters.
Assist children to stay in touch with their ‘hunger cues’
Parents should serve appropriate portions and not overeat. Parents need to make children understand the feelings of fullness. We mostly eat when we’re hungry and stop when we’re full. But it’s easy to ignore when giant portions surround you. To help kids to understand their tummy talk, never force or push them to have” one more bite” or “clean their plate. Instead, serve them with a bit of portion in the beginning so they don’t waste it and understand the value of food.  

No screens

  • While having meals screens should be turned off as they distract children from paying attention to how much they’re eating and when they’ve had enough. Watching mobile phones or TV 
  • while having food could even be more detrimental as they absorbs the energy of what they are watching. 
  • This will also serve the purpose of together time spending. Age-appropriate tasks should be selected so that children can perform their tasks easily without getting injured or feeling overwhelmed. Modelling healthy eating habits can help shape your child’s eating behaviours and relationships with food.
  • Make your children participate in food shopping and cooking from an early age to expose them to healthy food items.

Have positive conversations about different eating lifestyles.

  • It’s pervasive to use food as a reward or punishment. Rather make eating habits a sacred part of a child’s routine.
  • During conversations about healthy eating, never get dieting or weight constraint to be part of it.
  • Occasionally incorporating the least healthy foods into meal plans is O.K. If your kids won’t eat certain things, don’t put stress.
  • Healthy nutrition is foremost to fuel children as they grow. And initiating this at the right age also sets the foundation for a healthy lifestyle that will carry into adulthood.


Author: Mohit Chaurasia

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