Tips to make children eat healthy foods
Children are at a juncture in their life when good and healthy food is of utmost importance. They need macro and micronutrients to maintain the rapid growth that occurs during this period. But a lot of children are fussy about the food they eat and they also get distracted very fast.
To make them sit in a place and eat their meal calmly we need to get their attention and hold it. The food offered to children should be nutrient-dense because they do not eat large quantities of food. At the same time, the food should be interesting and appealing to the kids.
How do we make food attractive to the kids?
Give the kids the freedom to choose
When kids are asked what they want and are given the freedom to choose the food they feel responsible and complete the food given to them. Let them choose what they want to eat and you prepare the same food by incorporating some healthy ingredients in it. If they ask for a pizza make it healthy by having a lot of veggie toppings and making the base thin crust.
Add a dash of colour to food
Use foods such as carrots, different coloured capsicum, strawberries, pineapple to add colour to food. Use tomato ketchup or puree to make foods that kids find boring colourful. Add bits of carrots and beans as toppings to make food eye-catching.
Make it easy for them to eat
Children do not like complicated things, they like things to be simple. Do not have too many dishes, make few and easy to eat foods. Using forks, knives, chopsticks is cumbersome for them. Food prepared should be easy for them to pick up and eat. For example, finger foods.
Make milkshakes and smoothies which are healthy. Children find it very easy to drink liquids as it takes less time to complete. Fruits, vegetables, juice, milk, yoghurt-like healthy foods can be used to make these milkshakes and smoothies.
Arrange food in an interesting way
Make mealtime fun and interesting time. Surprise kids with veggies arranged in a smiley or some other interesting way. Fruits and vegetables cut into different interesting shapes, rice coloured and layered will make them appealing. Make dips which are healthy and colourful. Presentation of food is of utmost importance. A little creativity would be of great help. Make mealtime stimulating.
Include different textures, children like crispy, crunchy and creamy textures.
Never tire of offering new foods
Some children are fussy about new foods. Keep offering them one day they will try it. Every child is different, some are adventurous enough to try new foods while some take time. They may have food phobias, may not like a particular texture or taste. It may look like they will never eat that food again but keep offering. One day they will try. Give them time.
Be a role model
First and most important is to lead by example. Children learn more from what they see rather than what they are told. Set an example by eating healthy food, a variety of food, home-cooked food, without distractions such as television and phone, and mealtimes should be as much as possible with family.
When the weather permits, shift your dining area to terrace or garden so that kids enjoy the food in a different setting.
Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them (James Baldwin).
Remember not to force children to eat food because they will develop an aversion to such foods. It is crucial to see that our children get adequate nutrition while growing because it lays the foundation for their future health and personality.