Children prefer foods that they enjoy the most. No matter what your intentions are, you may have a difficult time convincing your kid to eat a particular fruit or a vegetable or a specific food. So the challenging task for most parents is to make healthy options alluring. But how do you do that? Well, that is the dilemma most parents face!
You need to camouflage the taste of healthy foods by innovating new ways to make the food tempting enough for your child. For instance, you can add vegetables to his soup or stew, or add carrots to his mashed potatoes, or add his favourite dip with his slices of apple.
Children love imitating their elders. So, you definitely need to act as your child’s role model. There’s no point asking your child to eat healthy, nutrition-rich food while you binge on unhealthy stuff like crisps and chocolates.
Let’s walk though some tips that will encourage your child to eat healthy.
Start your child’s day right:
Breakfast is the most important meal for everybody. So, try to encourage your child not to miss his first meal of the day. Several studies reveal that children who have their breakfast regularly are likely to be healthy, active and concentrate better in school. They are also less likely to experience mood swings and weight gain.
However, it is important to eat a breakfast high in quality protein, good fats and good carbs. This will help ensure that your kid will not crave high calorie food. Your child’s breakfast can include whole-grain cereals, toast, fruit with yogurt, whole milk, cottage cheese or peanut butter. Eggs, whether they are boiled or scrambled, along with fruits like apple, banana etc. make good breakfast options.
You need to focus on your child’s overall diet rather than on particular foods. Encourage him or her to eat wholesome food rather than processed ones.
Make nutritious lunch
It is always a great idea to pack your child’s lunch box to discourage consuming junk food during lunch hours at school. Moreover, if you let your child select his or her food for lunch, he or she is likely to eat everything in the lunch box. This is also a great way to teach children about healthy food and the various nutritional values of food.
Avoid packing highly processed, salty and sugary food in your child’s lunch box. Do not include processed meat like salami, ham, or crisps, sweet biscuits, chocolates, soda drinks etc.
Some of the lunch suggestions for children include rice with lentils and cooked vegetables, pita bread with low-fat cheese, sandwiches with lean meat, vegetables, hummus and salad. You can also pack fresh fruits or dried fruits. Don’t forget your child’s water bottle. It is important for him or her to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Avoid empty calorie snacks
Depending on your child’s activity, his or her appetite may vary in the afternoon. Therefore, let them choose how much they want to eat from a wide range of healthy foods. Offer them food that is rich in nutrition rather than giving them something high in energy.
You can give a glass of milk with a sandwich; a bowl of soup with a lot of vegetables; cereal with some fresh fruits and milk; toast with fresh fruit juice. Fresh fruit smoothies also make great evening snacks.
Your child might want empty calorie snacks like crisps, chocolates, cookies or aerated drinks but avoid giving such unhealthy snacks. In case if your child insists, limit the portion size.
Bond over dinner
Apart from breakfast, make dinner a regular family occasion. It is a great way for a family to bond over a meal. Sitting together with the entire family is not only comforting to your child but also increases his or her appetite.
Avoid takeaways from restaurants. Food from outside tend be high on salt, fat and sugar. Moreover, we don’t know the type of oil being used to cook the food. You can instead cook more meals at home. Involving your child while cooking is also a great way to make him or her enjoy the meal.
Dinner can include chicken or vegetable soup; whole wheat pasta; mashed potatoes, low-fat spinach lasagne; rice, lentil and vegetables or chapatti with vegetables.
Your child might be more inclined to eat junk food, but there are ways to instil healthy eating habits without turning mealtimes into a battle zone. Besides eating healthy, nutrition-rich food, it is also important for your child to be active throughout the day. Encourage your child to go outdoors and play rather than staying indoors with a computer game. It is essential for a child to get at least 60 minutes of rigorous activity every day.
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