Have you ever observed that generally as adults we have the same food habits that our parents had! We tend to like the same type of food, follow the same meal pattern and so many other things. Our food habits are set as a child and only conscious effort on our part will make us change those habits.
Sub-consciously we usually learn what our parents do and we also end up liking the same type of food. Therefore, it is essential that we set the right example for our children to develop healthy food habits. Because, yes most likely they will end up like us.
Here are a few tips which will help us inculcate healthy food habits in our children.
- First, do not preach but show. If we do, they will follow. Do not expect them to eat at the dining table while you eat in front of the television. food habits are also like any other habits they pick up from you.
- Involve kids in planning the menu and also while shopping for groceries. They will learn a lot from shopping expeditions. When they get a little older teach them to read labels on food.
- Make cooking a fun activity. It may not be possible during the week but at least during the weekends involve kids in cooking. Maybe they can make balls out of dough or some such simple activity which does not involve anything dangerous like handling a stove or knife to kickstart food habits.
- The whole family at the table encourages children to eat healthy meals. Make this activity a pleasant one. Mealtime has to be together family time. It is difficult in this mad rush we call daily routine but we need to try to inculcate healthy food habits.
- Do not watch television while eating as we do not realize what is going into our body or how much because our concentration is elsewhere.
- Telling kids to eat healthy food and nutrient-rich food is one thing but showing them by doing it yourself is another thing. This stays with the kid for a long time.
- Give children the choice to refuse foods. All of us have some preferences or some dislikes. Children also have some likes and dislikes. Do not force them if they do not like a particular food, but keep offering them. Maybe one day they will try it.
- Encourage children to try new food but do not force them. You have to understand that the child may like it or may not like it.
- Forcing children to eat certain foods may make mealtimes a stressful activity for the children and a nightmare for the adults.
- We have to plan meals properly and be flexible. Each child is different and of course, so are their food habits, children are very different from adults.
- Do not use food as a bribe to get things done.
- The more often they eat food they tend to develop taste for it. Offer healthy, nutritious food regularly to kids. Especially fruits and vegetables should be offered regularly.
- Snacks form an important meal for children. Pay attention to what you are giving them as snacks. Most snacks offered to children are calorie-dense foods. We need to give them healthy snacks which may require us to spend some time planning
All these activities are time-consuming but in the long run, our children will benefit from them. They will grow into adults who have good and healthy food habits.