When it comes to children’s health, invariably, everything centers around their eating habits! Whenever a group of mums come together, 90% of the time, they end up having a protracted discussion about how nit-picky their kids are regarding food, and how much of a herculean task it is to make them finish their plates every day. I think that is one of the biggest struggles for us mothers – that our children don’t eat properly or are a little too choosy.
As a fitness and nutrition consultant, every single day, I deal with picky eaters of all ages! In fact, my morning starts with this! I am a mother of two not-so-easy-to-handle kids, an 8 year-old boy and a 5 year-old girl. Trust me, it is easy to convince my clients but these little brats are incorrigible.
We all know how significant nutrition is at all stages in life – childhood being the most important of those. What we eat as kids, pretty much dictates our lifestyle and health in later ages. With kids, all you need is a little… or perhaps a lot of patience. And some tricky tricks up your sleeve. Let’s see some of the how-to’s when it comes to getting your picky brats to eat up their meals:
Availability – Stop making things you don’t want your kids to eat so easily available at home. You need to simply throw out those unnecessary, unhealthy, pretty little jars of junk. I have noticed some people have instant noodles, chocolate spreads, chips, etc. noted as regulars in every month’s grocery list. I have seen mothers around me very conveniently handing over a packet of chips to the kids when they are hungry. Your child will reach out for whatever is readily available to them when they open the fridge. My younger one literally opens the fridge 20 times a day. Not finding anything worth her taste buds, she comes to me saying that she is hungry. Then my only options for her are boiled eggs, carrots, cucumber sandwiches, fruits, or homemade cookies and cake.
So keep your home clear of things you don’t want your child to munch on.
Peek-a-boo – This is one of those neat tricks you can use – hiding the good stuff in their food!
Now this has to be a trial and error method for everyone. Like with my kids, they don’t like fancy stuff. Also, they like smooth textures in everything. Cakes, spreads, cheelas – nothing crunchy. So I have to make things accordingly. Like if I want to give them broccoli soup, I churn the broccoli with some cream, which gives it a creamy texture. Sometimes you just have to hide the healthy ingredient in the food in a better way. When my kids were younger, I used to mix a fine powder of dry fruits in their milk and porridge. This way you can save yourself from a lot of mess and running around, while keeping the nutrition intact. Focus on quality and nutrients rather than the quantity.
Take out time (manage/ prepare meals) – I am sure every mother here wants the best for her children. To ensure appropriate nutritional intake of your children, try and make your kids favourite foods at home.
These days all recipes are one just a click away. If you have a time crunch, each and every ingredient is available online too, so you don’t have to step out! The only reason I started baking was because of my kids. Now I bake wholesome cupcakes, bread, and biscuits at home. It is also easier to add healthy ingredients like oats, wheat, flaxseed etc. when you are baking yourself. Also, if you think that you need baking classes to start, you are wrong. For basic cooking/baking techniques, Google is enough. So whatever your child likes – be it pizza, cake or burgers, it’s not rocket science to make all this at home. Just give it a try if you haven’t already. Believe me the satisfaction you will get will be absolutely worth it!
Be a role model – This step is very important. Don’t expect your child to eat healthy, while you yourself wolf down KFCs and McDonald’s. Children will unknowingly follow what is being done in front of them. Before inculcating healthy eating habits in your child, ensure that you yourself are conscious about what you eat.
Again, this is related to the first point I had mentioned. If you avoid junk, neither you will buy it nor will your kids find these things at home. So try and become a good example for your kids in terms of nutrition too.
While it is imperative to keep a watchful eye, it is also important to remember not to get carried away with your attempts to enforce good eating habits in your children. Do not deprive your children of any one food group completely. Moderation is the key. It is also completely alright to let them eat their favourite burger or pizza once a week from wherever they want. Make sure to balance their nutritional requirements in their daily routine. Make sure to include cheese, yoghurt, eggs, peanut butter, fruits etc in their diet every day. And wherever possible, ensure you’re adding the fun element into their daily foods to make them extra special!
So let’s consider a list of things your kids should consume regularly:
- Fruits – perfect snack for kids.
- Vegetables – get creative, try carrot sticks with peanut butter.
- Nuts – a handful of health and energy.
- Peanut butter – Ideal mix of fats, proteins, carbs, vitamins, magnesium and dietary fibre.
- Fish/cottage cheese – power foods they are.
- Whole grains – fibre boost.
- Beans – so many varieties, see which ones your kids like.
- Cheese – spread it, melt it, or just let them bite into it.
- Popcorn – snack time treat
- Water and liquids – keep them hydrated.
A little thought and planning for your kids’ nutrition can take their health a long way. Hope this could be of some help. It reads easy but yet sometimes we end up getting confused as to what our children should eat. So let’s plan ahead and nourish our little ones with all the health and happiness.
Article Credits – Swati Sodhi