Is your Child a Picky Eater?
Eating has a more important role to play in our lives than just providing nutrition. Mealtimes therefore need to be relaxed and fun both for you and your family.
This will not only ensure that your little one gets the much valued nutrition but also bring you closer as a family. After all a family that eats together stays together!
So make meal times fun for your kids and yourself by following some simple rules:
Step by Step: Introduce only one new food at a time instead of giving a completely new meal. If you want your child to eat an unfamiliar or new food try and introduce it with something they like. For Example, instead of giving your child palak or methi as a subzi try giving them spinach dhokla.
Small to Big: Use small portion sizes initially while introducing new foods. Gradually move on to bigger portions. Do not force your child to finish the entire plate in one go.
Be Positive: Some children have negative associations with some food. Try to change the form and texture of that food to change the association into more positive ones. For instance some foods remind children of 'hospital food' or 'hostel food' and they refuse to eat them.
Make Meals Healthier: Try to improve the nutritive value of the food that your child enjoys. For instance if you child likes pastas or pizzas try whole wheat pasta or pizza with a lot of vegetables. Enrich some of the foods with additives. You may add tuna to sandwiches, fruit to cereal or vegetables to pasta, spinach to dosas or carrots to idlis.
Don’t Bribe: Resist giving your child sweets and fried foods to encourage them to eat. You may be doing more harm than good.
Make mealtimes Relaxed and Fun: Avoid TV and other distractions that may lead to overeating or losing interest in food. Talk to your child about their day and share with them your experiences. Your child will look forward to meal times. NEVER use TV as an incentive to eat. This will become a habit later and your child might develop a problem of overeating later in life.
Involve your Child: involve them in buying food by taking them to the supermarket or letting them choose their own menu for one day in a week. This not only teaches them decision making but also helps them get more involved in the preparation of meals. Let your child lay the table or help you clear it and see how involved they get in mealtimes!
Cooking with your child is also a good option. Once in a while, cook interesting but healthy dishes with them. Try making interesting recipes with your kid.
Make a Schedule: do not have erratic meal times and do not encourage your child to eat at odd hours. Plan this schedule according to your child’s lifestyle and convenience and involve them in the process.
Set an Example: Do not talk about your dislike for food in front of your children as they might follow your example. Eat healthy and watch them do the same!
Educate your child on the benefits of healthy eating and healthy living as-and-when you-think-appropriate.
Encourage your Children even when they are Older: In case of older children don’t criticize their eating habits or their body type at any cost! It is important to promote a positive body image. Children may slip into eating disorders very easily.
Keep a Watchful Eye but stay calm: In older children if you notice an extreme desire or pressure from outside to stay thin speak to them about the hazards of eating disorders. If the problem persists do not hesitate to seek medical help.