Here are five do’s and don’ts that may help you to teach your kids good eating habits:
- Eating together- Make all the family members sit together during mealtime along with your kids even if they are not ready for solid food or refuse to eat food. They will learn about healthy eating and table manners if they sit together. Let them learn by
- Being a role model – Eat healthy food that you want your kids to have and let them try with you.
- Limiting the meal time – A mealtime should not extend beyond 30 minutes. Limit the mealtime to help the kids stay focused during meals.
- Involve your kids – Involve your kids in the meal making process. Assign them small tasks in the kitchen according to their capability. If they are school-going children, involve them in packing their tiffins. You can also ask a little older kid to help you prepare one dish each week on Sundays. They can even learn flameless cooking from online class platforms like Yellow Class. This way, they will know about different kinds of food and spices and make them curious to try out new tastes.
- Let the kids decide their meal – Allow the child to decide what to eat and what portion to eat. If the kid is just starting on food, let them try a new food if he wants. Let them eat on his own. The child and the area may become messy, but they will learn to eat by themselves. Let the older kids serve themselves. Be prepared that they may heartily eat some food and leave others untouched.
- Keep serving new and healthy food along with favourites.- Kids like to give new foods a try if they do not feel forced into doing so. Gently ask them to try the new or rejected dish or offer them to taste from your plate so that they do not feel pressured. It takes more than 10 to 20 tries for a kid to decide on a portion of food.
- Set a regular scheduled meal and snack time for eating- Let the kids eat balanced meals at the scheduled time and discourage nibbling at titbits in between meals.
- Do not make something different for them. Stick to what you have made and let your child choose from them. If they refuse to eat what you have prepared let them be. They will quickly learn to eat from what is available to them.
- Do not offer another food as a reward for eating healthy – If you give a child food as a reward like a favourite dessert or snack food, then the healthy foods become less desirable than the dessert or snacks.
- Do not force your kid to eat the full potion you want them to eat. Children eat to their hunger cues. They will have as much food as they are capable of having. They will learn to recognise their hunger and fullness cues.
- Don’t nag – Don’t nag your kids to have veggies or any other food that they do not like to eat. Researches show that authoritarian parenting leads to eating more junk foods and less healthy foods. Nagging only increases a child’s stubbornness about food.
- Do not prohibit treats- Some foods may not be healthy enough but are the kid’s favourite. Do not prohibit the children from having them at all. Prohibition attracts the kids more towards the food, and they tend to overeat whenever they get the chance. Instead, encourage a healthier way to have treats and in smaller portions.