Fussy eating is the most common complaint heard from parents these days. If you follow certain ground rules, life can get a bit easier though! See if these help you -
1. Introduce healthy foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, beans, nuts, seeds) early. Children who are introduced to healthy foods earlier tend to reach for these foods more.
2. Serve fruits and vegetables first before serving rest of the items in any meal to improve consumption of these nutrient-rich foods.
3. Make healthy snacks like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and healthy beverages (water, pure fruit juice, smoothies) available at the snack time.
4. Encourage your children to drink lots of water during the day.
5. Build conversation around food. Explain- what happens to food in the body, food as a source of nutrients and how different nutrients perform different functions; this makes children more likely to eat a variety of foods and choose healthy options.
6. Ensure proper chewing of food by instructing your children to take smaller bites and chew slowly to break food into smaller easily digestible particles.
7. Involve children in shopping, meal planning and preparation of food. Also give them chance to choose from healthier options, while teaching the nutritional values of different foods.
8. Encourage children to experiment with food like exploring new ways to make your regular meals healthier by incorporating new healthy ingredients wherever possible.
9. Plant a kitchen garden with your children, children who learn to garden eat healthier diet.
10. Build some fun filled family dinner rituals that children look forward to, like praying together, paying gratitude to everyone who is part of making that meal or sharing the good things as well as the not-so-good things that happened during the day.
Last but not the least, family meals and parental eating patterns are most important in building healthy eating habits. Children see their parents as role models and are more likely to choose healthy foods if we parents eat healthy. Research also suggests that children who eat more meals with family eat more fruits, vegetables and other nutrient rich foods. Also they are more likely to eat breakfast, have fewer meals on the go and less likely to consume aerated drinks.
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