Mothers every single day struggle to deal with kids who are extremely picky eaters, both big and small. Parents of kids who have very different eating habits, pick out the vegetables and fruits, have a strong affinity for a few food items and extreme dislike for the rest are difficult to handle. There are a number of reasons for children to be drawn towards junk food. Peer pressure and TV commercials for junk food can make getting your children to eat well a real struggle. Factor in your own hectic schedule and you’ve got a mess. It’s no wonder so many kids’ diets are built around frozen pizza and takeout food. But switching to a healthy diet – a casserole of vegetable pulao or sauteed vegetables can have a positive effect on your child’s health, helping them to maintain a healthy weight, stabilize their mood patterns, sharpen their mind, build resilience, avoid a variety of health problems and enhance mental and emotional wellbeing, helping to prevent conditions such as stress, depression, anxiety, bulimia etc.
Designing their food charts and developing healthy diets for them can be tricky. So, what is the solution? It is definitely going to be a tough job to convince a 5 year old to cut back on that junk food, that it’s bad for him/ her and make her eat a rather bland yet healthy vegetable like broccoli. So, read on to find out the best solutions to make your kid eat healthy.
How to Make Your Kid Have a Better Meal
1. Focus on the overall diet
It is important to focus on the child’s overall diet rather than specific food items. Kids should be eating more whole food items, less processed food. They should eat food that is as close to its natural form as possible and less packaged and processed food. Focus on their overall nutrition, vitamins and mineral intake instead of their intake of specific food items.
2. Disguise the taste of healthier foods
Now, kids can create a real fuss if you ask them to eat steamed vegetables with little to know crunchy or meaty elements. How to add the yummy component? Add vegetables to a chicken stew for example, or mash carrots up with mashed potato add some food seasoning or add a sweet dip to slices of apple and pears with a side of ranch. A casserole of vegetable lasagna can be a delicious addition.
3. Avoid Takeouts
Restaurant and takeout meals have more added sugar, are cooked under unhygienic conditions and have unhealthy fat and oils. So, cooking at home can have a huge positive impact on your kids’ health. If you make large batches then you can store the excess in hot cases. Cooking just a few times can be enough to feed your family for the whole week.
4. Healthy Snacks
Keep plenty of fruit, vegetables, and healthy beverages like, flavored water, milk, pure pulp fruit juice on hand so kids avoid unhealthy snacks like soda, chips, and cookies. You can make healthy snacks at home. Avoid fried snacks. Serve them with a tasty dip to attract the kid’s attention.
5. Introduction of new foods is Important
Children are always a little cautious when it comes to new food items. But, kids sometimes have to get used to a flavor before they’ll like the taste. Before they get used to a certain food item, you have to keep incorporating that food item into their daily food in small amounts. If you feel that your child isn’t getting enough nutrients or is behind on growth then start incorporating different types of proteins, carbohydrates etc. little by little.
6. Make a tasty Dip
If your kids won’t eat vegetables then the best way to make them eat their veggies and fruits is to add condiments and dips. Kids will love to eat their vegetables when served with some ranch salad dressing. Children also like ketchup, hummus, salsa, and yogurt-based dressing.
7. Start Young
Food preferences develop early in life, so it is always better to offer variety to children from a young age. Likes and dislikes begin forming even when kids are babies. You may need to serve a new food item a few different times for a child to accept it. But don’t worry and don’t force your child to eat but make them eat a few bites.
8. Control their Sugar Intake
Sugar is fine but don’t turn desserts into a daily habit or the main reason for eating dinner. When dessert is the prize for eating a meal, kids naturally wait for that sugary cupcake after the carrots and the broccoli. Try to stay neutral about food.
9. Serve Hot Food
It is important to serve the kids with hot food. Do not serve them cold food for they tend to be tasteless and bland. Use a casserole or a hot case to keep your food warm and serve it fresh and warm. Warm food automatically makes everything more delicious, be it vegetables or chicken chops or a casserole of curry.
10. You are the role model
Be a role model and eat healthy yourself. When trying to teach good eating habits, try to set the best example possible. Choose nutritious snacks, eat at the table, and don’t skip meals.
It is important to remember that kids are not born with a craving for french fries and pizza and an aversion to broccoli and carrots. Their affinity to junk food happens over time as they’re exposed to more and more unhealthy food choices. However, it is possible to change your children’s food preferences so that they eat healthier foods instead. The sooner you introduce wholesome, nutritious food choices into a child’s diet, the easier they’ll be able to develop a healthy diet that can last them a lifetime. It can be simpler and less time-consuming than you imagine. With these tips, you can instill healthy eating habits without turning mealtimes into a war zone and give your kids the best opportunity to grow into healthy, well-balanced adults.