As a parent, you are constantly worried about your child’s health and your main concern is how to get your little ones to eat nutritious food while catering to their ever-changing demands and moods?
In fact, studies have shown that teaching children the importance of healthy eating at an early age is a smart move that will go a long way in helping them develop a healthy lifestyle in the future.
So, now the challenge is; how do you convince your picky little eaters to try out fruits and vegetables that are good for them?
Children should be taught at an early age that there are a variety of options to choose from. Engage in conversations with your child and listen to what they have to say and make a meal plan according to their likes and dislikes.
Make them explore different kinds of healthy and tasty recipes that are packed with nutrients.
Don’t worry, we have compiled a list of innovative ways to make your toddler eat healthy.
Onwards to a healthy read:
1) Take a Nutritionist’s Advice –
The first step is to have a conversation with a trained and reputed nutritionist before going for a meal plan. A good nutritionist can help you gain good insights about healthy and nutritious food that will also appeal to your child.
A nutritionist will also guide you about which nutrients and foods are essential for your child during these early years of rapid mental and physical development. It is advisable to give your child a well-balanced diet with whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Once you have all the information, you can devise your meal plans accordingly.
At MySchool, our monthly menu is decided by our empanelled nutritionist and we ensure that:
- The food is nutritious, balanced and hygienic. All meals are cooked in-house under strict supervision.
- Children are introduced to different cuisines like North Indian, Chinese, South Indian, continental etc, to help them develop a varied palate.
The monthly menu is shared with parents in advance and all meals are prepared fresh and served piping hot.
2) Make Weekly Meal Plans-
Once you have your diet chart ready, the next step, that is to “Make a Meal Plan” for your child every week.
Start by engaging in conversations with them and listening to what their choices and preferences are. Make a list of their likes and dislikes, prepare something healthy and tasty from the ingredients they love.
Try to make it as healthy and as diverse as possible. Your goal is to make a meal plan which will enrich the growth of your child.
Experiment with new recipes and ingredients every time you prepare their meal.
A simple way to keep things interesting is by following the rainbow diet theory:
Rainbow diet refers to a diet abundant in all nutritional colours, i.e., red, orange, green, blue, purple and yellow.
Let us learn what each colour group has to offer-
- Red- Foods from this group are believed to boost your immunity and even help prevent cancer, e.g. tomatoes, strawberries, and apples, etc.
- Orange– Add some zest to your child’s diet with these fruits and vegetables that pack a punch of vitamin C like oranges, mango, bell peppers, and carrots.
- Green– Leafy, green vegetables contain the life-giving compound chlorophyll, are rich in vitamins, minerals and high in fibre, go for seasonal greens, avocado, spinach and cabbage, etc.
- Blue, Indigo and Purple- Rich in antioxidants, healthy foods from this group include blueberries, brinjal and beetroot, etc.
3) Healthy Food Can be Tasty –
Parents face the challenge of feeding healthy food to their children every day. Homemade food can also taste good. Not all healthy food is boring and tasteless. Healthy and homemade food can be delicious and tasty too.
Any food can be healthy if it is prepared with less oil, sugar and salt to help retain its natural nutrients. For example- you can use raw organic honey instead of sugar or you can add honey as a topping to enrich the taste of your desserts.
You also can make seasonal fruit shakes for your child, like mango, strawberry, banana etc. instead of indulging them in flavoured packaged milk that is laden with preservatives or chocolate shakes with high sugar content.
4) Nutrients Rich Food for Kids- The most important forms of eating healthy are portion control and reducing the content of unhealthy fat and sugar in your child’s diet. Make it easy for your kid to choose healthy snacks by keeping fruits and vegetables on hand and ready to eat.
Here is a list of food items that are rich in nutrients –
- Fruits– Fruits like bananas, apples, oranges are rich in vitamin and protein; whip up a quick fruit cream or blitz them into smoothies for your little ones.
- Eggs – They are an excellent source of protein and vitamins, you can prepare them in different ways to make sure that your child eats them in some form or other: boiled, scrambled, the classic omelette, you can occasionally opt for French Toast as well to keep things interesting.
- Milk – Make sure that your child drinks 2 glasses of milk every day, for a protesting child, try the maximum quantity that can be taken without much fuss.
- Peanut Butter – Peanut butter provides kids with energy and protein; peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a classic staple loved by children all over the world. It should be noted that Peanut is an allergen so be sure that your child is not allergic to it.
- Yoghurt– It provides protein and calcium, you can mix in fresh fruits and raisins to make it more enticing.
- Vegetables– Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients like potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C, experiment with different vegetable wraps to add variety to your child’s diet.
- Certain food options need to be checked for allergies to the child, like gluten containing, lactose rich, etc amongst others.
5) Make Eating a Fun and Colourful Activity-
Teach your child about the nutritional value of every food item and try to prepare a colourful and tasty meal. The meal should not look boring and dull. It should look tempting and colourful. Try to make the meal prep a fun learning activity with your children.
While every meal cannot be very colourful but including a variety of vegetables and fruits will enrich the quality and taste of your child’s meal. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, make sure you do not make your child’s eating habits dull. Treating your child to goodies does no harm, as long as you are instilling healthy eating habits in your child.
6) Teach them Proper Eating Habits and Table Manners: It is advisable to teach your child the habit of eating slowly and chewing their food properly. Children can detect hunger when they eat at a slow pace. Before giving a second serve, ask your child to wait for some time to check if they are hungry.
Parents are advised to teach their children essential table manners. Mentioned below are some of the basic table manners your child should know:
- The hands and face should be clean.
- A napkin should be kept on their lap.
- They should start eating when everybody else does.
- They should keep their mouth closed while chewing.
- Ask them to sit up straight.
- Discourage the habit of watching television while having a meal, opt for family dinners at the dining table.
7) Health and Hygiene:
Homemade food is the best, i.e., hygienic and healthy, but you also need to teach your child the importance of maintaining hygiene while cooking. Include them in the process of preparing meals. Make cooking a part of the family culture.
Teach kids the importance of staying safe while cooking, why do fruits and vegetables need to be washed before consumption, the importance of using clean utensils, dumping waste in designated areas, etc. Make it a fun learning experience for them.
Collaborate with your kid when selecting recipes for main dishes. They will learn and enjoy making meals with you.
8) Come Up With Healthy Alternatives to Fast Food-
Eating a lot of junk food can hamper the growth of your child, as it is not healthy and it can have harmful effects on your child’s well being. Children develop a disliking for fruits and vegetables when they are offered easy alternatives like fast food. Fast food should only be an option when you don’t want to cook once in a while. Teach your child about the harmful effects of consuming fast food on a regular basis.
A smart way is to whip up healthy substitutes at home, go for homemade veggie burgers, with whole grains buns and homemade vegetable or chicken patty that is grilled not fried. You can also add slices of fresh tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and serve them with baked sweet potato fries instead of French fries.
9) Eat Together as a Family:
Eating meals together with your child provides daily time for the whole family to be together. Kids don’t like eating alone, it would be good to spend some quality time with your child over meals. Try and indulge in conversation with your child as a quiet and unpleasant meal may make your child eat faster and leave the table quickly, a habit which is not healthy.
Also, try to take your child for food shopping and teach them about different fruits and vegetables. This approach helps you know a lot about your child’s food preferences.
10) Be Sneaky:
As any parent knows, you need to be creative, serve fruits and vegetables as snacks with cream and dips respectively. Add more fruits in shakes you make for them. Teach them how important is to have green vegetables on a daily basis. Make whole-wheat pizza topped with a veritable garden of vegetables or a bowl of noodle soup with a blended puree of vegetables.
In conclusion, when it comes to your child’s health, the sooner you start, the better. Research indicates that healthy eating habits your children pick up when they are young will enable them to maintain a healthy lifestyle when they are adults. So, it’s time to get creative and get going in order to help your little angels develop healthy habits early on in their lives.
At MySchool, as a matter of the experiential and holistic learning that the child is getting, we introduce them to their meals, teach them to respect and eat their food to the last bite, clean up after themselves. The children wash their hands and face before and after their meals. A monthly plan is to include them into easy hands on no-flame cooking wherein they lear how to handle food items gently and bring them together to create a yummy snack.
MySchool believes in complete development of the child from academics, co curricular to health, hygiene and habits.