Inculcating Healthy Food Habits in Children – Explains Dr. Nupur Gupta – Parenting and Fussy Eaters

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With junk food options galore, parents find it difficult to inculcate healthy food habits in their children. In the long run, lack of nutrition and junk food leads to malnourishment which in turn increases the disease load on one’s body.

Here are some tips for parents to help them inculcate healthy food habits in their kids, especially if they are fussy eaters –

  1. Take care of meal times
  • Try to tell them the importance of meal time & make them to respect it.
  • Not to allow them to eat any small bits of food items before meal
  • Give them examples or tell  stories regarding the habit of getting meal on time
  1. Be careful about your own likes & dislikes
  • Kids follow the parents habit so don’t express any strong opinion about food in front of the children
  • Don’t discuss about your dislikes with the children or anybody else of the family
  1. Never force the child to eat the food
  • Children are quite fussy about the food
  • Never force the children to eat the food if they are not hungry
  • If you force them they become stubborn & obstinate
  • Never bribe the child of toys, candy, chocolates or anything else to finish the food
  • It will make them dependent on such sugary unhealthy food & also will promote the attention seeking behaviour in them
  1. Be creative
  • Kids easily get bored with same kind of food items
  • They love to eat attractive, colourful & decorated food items with different ingredients
  • Kids like to eat sandwiches, different milk shakes, smoothies, cutlets & colourful stuffed parathas
  • Use different ingredients with innovative ideas to make such delicious food items
  • Pick healthy, different vegetables & fruits & use them in your innovative recipes
  1. Teach your kid to read labels
  • Take your kids to grocery shopping and visit a superstore with the best quality of produce.
  • Teach them the way to read labels and the importance of it
  • Involve them in the decision making pertaining to kitchen.
  1. Keep Food and screen time –always separate
  • It is important that you inculcate the importance and the sensibility  that not to watch TV while eating
  • If the child is watching TV he/she will not be aware about the food he/she is eating
  • They will not be able to understand what & in how much quantity they are eating
  • This will indulge them in over eating or less eating
  • They will not chew the food properly
  • It may cause different problems related to indigestion or teeth problems

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  1. Cook together
  • Motivate them to help you in the kitchen on their holidays.
  • Tell them about what you are preparing & how.
  • This will help them to understand the different ingredients, their use & importance to stay fit & fine
  • It will encourage you to spend some quality time with your children
  • If they are helping reward them with positive attitude.
  • As they are aware about the way a dish is prepared, they will enjoy food eating as well as preparing.
  • This will help them to be confident about themselves
  • It will be a great stress buster to make the new lovely dishes with your loved one.
  1. Don’t control them a lot on holidays
  • You as a parent try to eat healthy food first
  • Eat healthy to set a good example for your children
  • As in daily routine you are not allowing them to eat or drink cold drinks like Pepsi, coca set them free in parties or during holidays to have this but in limited quantity
  • Children will always want their treats especially when they are with others and on special occasions.
  • Also, binging on their favorite foods, on rare occasions, will not make them fat.
  • Children get fat because they consistently consume more calories than they burn.
  • That means you should worry about daily patterns, not holidays.

What is one golden rule about food that has to be followed by everyone in your family?

Many health problems or diseases are not affecting us because they are in our destiny but due to our life style, nutrition habits and family relationship. We can’t change the environmental factors but we can change our lifestyle and eating habits which have great influence on our health.

Nutritional food means that food is important for nutritional status, growth, development, and health. However, food represents more than just nutrition and health; for many people it is an important part of our relationships with others.

What we eat, when we eat, how we eat, and how frequently we eat are all influenced early in our lives within the context of our family and culture.

According to research on relationship between family and food has shown that well-functioning families have better overall health and well-being than poorly functioning families. If families are not functioning well then the parents, children and all other family members are at an increased risk for poor nutrition, being overweight, or developing other health-related problems like diabetes, depression, blood pressure and other cardiac problems

Family health influences children’s nutritional status and food intake as well as their overweight. Child’s weight status depends on parental feeding practices and behavior, parenting style, eating habits in family and overall family functioning.

To have good nutritional habits in children family members to follow this golden rule –

  • Be emotionally close and supportive to their children
  • Be interactive with the children
  • Help and guide them to have regular meal time
  • Don’t cut off junk foods immediately
  • Allow them to eat the junk food in parties and during holidays but in moderate quantity
  • Set limits, be firm, warm and allow the child to choose healthy food
  • Don’t pressure the child to eat particular food in particular time
  • Create environment that supports healthy eating practices amongst the family members
  • Present the food in attractive and appealing manner
  • Children often like raw veggies, like carrots, celery, cucumber and tomatoes. They can be “dressed up” with a healthy dipping sauce for added appeal.
  • Seasoning cooked vegetables with herbs or spices that children enjoy may make eating them more fun.
  • Mixing-in healthful foods in their favorite recipes can be a good strategy.
  • Offering choices among various healthful food options will encourage children to eat the food they selected, rather than feel coerced.
  • Avoid Restricting Food: When parents restrict certain foods, children are likely to eat more when they get the chance.
  • Keep watch on emotional health of family members. If we are emotionally disturbed then we tend to eat more which ultimately lead to overweight.

 

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  • dr_nupur_gupta
  • Dr. Nupur   Gupta
    Gynecologist & Obstetrician

    She works with Paras Hospitals, Well Woman Clinic in Gurgaon, India

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