5 Tips On Developing Healthy Eating Habits In Young Children
Like all mothers, the biggest struggle I face each day is to prepare and feed healthy meal to my son. Believe it or not, all kids of this generation are fussy eaters and mine is one of them. Though I try to offer him home cooked food with all seasonal vegetables but let's face the truth running after a toddler to make them eat is more frustrating than just being difficult.
They will eat when the food looks fancy or tastes super yummy. How long can we make our little one eat the same boring dal, sabzi, roti, khichdi, halwa, kheer, dosa, idli etc. Why not give them variety, let them experience different cuisines and develop taste buds.
Trust me, when I say that all kids are great observers, they always try to copy us. But when it comes to food some chemical locha always happen, So, I am sharing some tips on what all I have tried and worked since my son started solids:
1. Pre Decide The Menu:
Pre deciding the menu for 3 meals of the day would not only help you save time by keeping everything ready and plan the day better but would also help you plan a well balanced meal and avoid;anything non-healthy.
While deciding menu, try to focus on atleast one healthy cereal/fruit/veggie in each meal. for example: if you are feeding porridge/smoothies with fruits in breakfast, try vegetable pulav/khichdi for lunch or make vegetable cutlets, dosas/chilla having veggies.
2. Hiding is the Key:
Finally, chop/boil/grate the seasonal vegetables or fruits and add (read hide) in their meals.
Tip: boil and puree veggies, you can add them in their rotis/ dal / khichdi depending upon the age of the child. Like add mashed green gaurd (lauki) in dal and sprinkle with ghee tadka, or add mashed lauki in roti/paratha serve it with butter (which most toddlers like) or curd. Try cutting the parathas in various interesting shapes.
You may try the same with beetroot, spinach or any other seasonal veggie which your kid might not like. But their beautiful colour would add fun to their plate.Hiding them in their favourite, pasta, burger tikka, pizza, roti wraps will help.
Adding fruit purees to their curd and see how they would love the yummy taste. Make fruit smoothies, or try fruit ice creams or lollies could help in summers.
3. Attract With Favorites
Try to include at least one of their favourite item in the meal to help distract and feed them e.g I add few peas in almost everything and it helps me to feed him other vegetables too. Every time he won’t take a bite I would rather give him a pea and then few other veggies in next bite.
Add lots of cheese, butter, curd or ketchup on their vegetable loaded pizza, burger, pasta.
Avoid sitting in front of TV rather, talk to them about the day or engage them in their favourite book/toy and look at their happiness while they sit and eat.
4. Don’t skip trying new things
Try introducing new food items in mid morning snacks, that's the time they are most active and likely to try. If that's a hit- Great, if not - try again after few days with a different style.
5. Skip the boring, try easy healthy foods too
Remember that good habits once formed will remain for lifetime, and childhood is the time to teach good habits including healthy eating. Also, it is the time when they need to explore everything, so keep experimenting with their food. Make the boring healthy thing look good and then see the change yourself.
Do let me know in comments below how are you trying to introduce healthy vegetables in your kid's diet?