When it comes to healthy eating and food preferences, children of school age will fall into a broad range everywhere. Some children can be the same picky eaters they were when they were preschoolers, while others grow to become adventurous gourmets who are prepared, eager, and able to try new foods.
Starting off good nutritional habits on the right foot food-wise sets the foundation for a healthy lifestyle that will carry into adulthood. Parents can help form their tastes and attitudes towards nutritious food by directing them toward healthier eating habits, regardless of what kind of eating habits the child has developed.
Be Adventurous at First
Training the child’s taste buds to enjoy several different flavors, not just sugar, fat and salt, is one of the best gifts to give kids. Before they start loving it, a child can have to try something up to 5 times. So, on the first try, don’t give up.
Encourage them to try the samples at the deli or store- if it’s fun and exciting, kids can try all kinds of foods. Take them shopping and let them pick new food for themselves. This sort of adventure will serve their desire to eat more.
Healthy Habits for the Child
It’s never too soon to begin teaching healthy eating habits to youngsters. These healthy behaviors are learned by children through direct food interactions and through watching others.
Sit together at Dining Table
Eating as a family together is how children learn to make good food decisions and master table manners. Even if they are not ready for solids or refuse to eat, if the parents demand that young children sit with them, they will begin to learn the dining rules.
Do it mostly by-
- Example Setting: Model healthy eating habits and let the children try various foods. For instance, make them eat veggies. Often, by encouraging the children to see how they answer questions and do not interrupt, model good social conduct and certainly avoid screen time during meals.
- Limiting a fair amount of time for meals: It shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes for a meal. A timer can also be set if necessary to reinforce the expectation of time. At meals, this will help children remain concentrated.
Let the Children Decide
It’s nice to let kids choose what’s on their plate (even picky toddlers), and it’s OK if they choose just one or two things. Try to stop having something different for them if the child does not want to eat all or half of the meal.
Don’t presume that the children can eat as much as a parent does. Their portion sizes are proportional to their body size and age. An adult meat serving is about the size of the palm of the hand of the adult, while a child’s meat serving is about the size of the palm of the child.
Keep Trying Harder
Children may need to be introduced to a meal 15 to 20 times before agreeing to eat it. Before they decide whether they like it, it will take another 10 to 20 attempts. So if anything is rejected by the infant, try again within a couple of weeks.
The sense of pride they get from helping to cook the vegetable will improve their ability to eat it. So, let kids sometimes pick which vegetables to serve for dinner. If the child is not going to try what is given to them, it can be easy to get angry. Work on talking without a parent’s own prejudice about foods, using simple descriptors instead. In order not to overwhelm the kid, give new foods one at a time.
Try combining new foods with foods that children already like. It is important to offer a variety of colors and textures, especially with fruits and vegetables. An adult who never eats a green vegetable becomes a child who never sees a green vegetable. Even just putting the new food on the plate of the child will help them feel more acquainted with it.
Don’t Veto Treats
If the child is overweight, he may feel tempted to keep certain foods totally off-limits, but “forbidden” foods are a lure for children, and if they get the opportunity, they prefer to overeat these foods.
Instead, by promoting healthy treats and smaller amounts of such treats, take a balanced approach. Again, this is where it is necessary to model. It is OK to have ice cream, for instance, but everybody should have the kiddie portion and consider opting for dark chocolate frozen yogurt instead of sprinkles and whipped cream.
As for how much a child wants to feed, there is no magical number, but they should have made a fair effort to try the meal. It is part of a balanced eating routine to have fun family discussions and enjoy food in a comfortable setting. These are the best ways to make the child, certainly, accustomed to good habits.