What was once a cute little bundle of joy has now probably grown into a fuzzy ball of mischief! Every day new challenges are thrown at your face – leaving you perplexed, anxious, frenzied, frustrated and most often helpless.
The one that heads the list is probably their picky eating habit. You know how important proper nutrition is to your child’s overall development, especially during these growing years. But, they don’t seem to care a bit.
Here are a few tips on how to get them into eating right.
Be their model
Never ever expect your child to eat healthy, if you are also a choosy eater. Knowingly or unknowingly, children keep observing their parents and ultimately end up doing what they have seen their parents do. So, while making health choices, remember you are making it not just for you but for your entire family. Make sure your family dines together.
Let your kids observe and realize how good and healthy their parents’ eating habits are.
Set the limit
Of course, nobody else knows your child better. But, do not force them into over eating. You might well be aware of their proper meal portion size. Resist your urge to feed them with even a spoonful more.
Let your child get to know when exactly he feels full. Give him the freedom to stop eating, once he thinks he had had enough. This simple step can even help him ward off obesity in later years.
Give their taste buds enough time to get used to the feel of new flavors. Let them decide gradually whether they like a particular food or not.
That a toddler has rejected a pudding outright when it was first served to her does not necessarily mean she will hate it throughout. It is said that a child needs about ten exposures to a new food item to decide whether she actually appreciates it or not.
Even if the first attempt has been a disaster, do not lose hope. Try offering it again after a couple of weeks. Their response this time might take you by surprise!
Their peers make an immense impact in molding the behavioral pattern of each child. It is quite natural for kids to be tempted towards those food types which they find their friends enjoying. Of course, you cannot decide what other children should eat.
But you can definitely talk about the issue with other worried parents. Together, you can work out miracles. Both kids will tremendously merit from such combined effort.
You can also plan theme birthday parties appropriate for ages and include healthy food items in the menu. They wouldn’t mind eating veggies when it is part of birthday fun!!
Let them choose
No doubt, kids yearn for freedom of choice. Let them decide what they want to eat, from an array of healthy snacks placed on the table. This way, they are sure to feel that trying out new foods is a lot more fun.
This will work well even with toddlers. Encourage them to go exploring new tastes and they will soon realize that going for healthy snack options is not that bad an idea after all!
Also, let them decide what should be the day’s menu, once in a week or so. Give them the right menu, one that contains quite many healthy combinations, and then ask them to choose from it. Left to choose for the entire family, they feel more important and thereby tend to consider themselves as ‘grown up-like’.
Letting them get involved in the cooking process will greatly add to their interest. Entrust them with small tasks like peeling onions or cutting vegetables.
Let them know the effort that goes into the making of each dish. Next time, they will think twice before blatantly refusing a new food before even tasting it.
Never ever bribe the kids to eat healthy foods. It is certainly not advisable to lure your kids to eat green veggies, by offering an ice cream after dinner.
Somehow, in the long run, they get to learn from your act that ice-cream is something positive and vegetables are to be disliked. Such unhealthy trends are to be avoided; as such beliefs cultivated in childhood get firmly rooted in their minds and are there to stay forever.
No harsh “NO”
We all love fast food. So, let us be realistic. It is next to impossible to keep your kids away from it. They are sure to nod their heads in unison when you enlighten them upon the ill effects of devouring fatty and sugary food items.
But the very next moment, they start craving for it. What could be more practical is to restrict the consumption of junk food. Let them be aware of how much of such stuff can be savored. Balance is the key word.
No more insisting
If your child thinks food time as a torture, it is high time you started taking a different route. You need to pay heed to that red signal. Ensure that your kids enjoy eating and find food as something good. Make food time a fun time for the entire family.
Their young minds should not connect eating with negative emotions. Why not try the good old ‘two-bite rule’. Let your kids take a couple of bites from all those healthy snacks offered to them. Do not ever force them to eat too much of what they dislike. But they sure would not mind one or three bites.
You need to accept that each child is unique. Keep in mind that as a parent, you happen to be the most decisive factor that decides your child’s rapport with food. That your friend’s kid eats well is no reason for yours to eat right. And this uniqueness is precisely what makes them really cute.