For many parents, the battle to get their kids to eat healthy foods seems like an uphill battle. Children seem to have a natural aversion to anything green or nutritious. However, research shows that this picky eating behavior may actually be more common than you might think. While it’s easy for parents to feel frustrated or worried when their child refuses vegetables or fruit, it’s important to remember that this behavior is developmentally normal and often transient. By providing a variety of flavors and textures on the plate and involving children in the meal planning or preparation process, you can cultivate enthusiasm for healthy eating from an early age. In addition, instilling healthy eating habits in children can contribute to their growth and development.
Let’s look at some of the essential dietary steps you can take as a parent to ensure your child is getting a well-balanced diet.
How can I encourage my child to have a balanced diet?
1. Organize children’s eating habits
To maintain optimal nutrition and prevent mood swings in children, it is essential to create a structured eating routine that includes three meals, two snacks, and adequate fluid intake every three to four hours. By proactively planning these regular food breaks, you can ensure that your child’s diet remains balanced while minimizing their worries.
2. Prepare balanced meals
Don’t feel like you have to create elaborate dinners, focus on balance instead. Include whole-grain options like bread, rice, vegetables, and protein like cheese or beans.
3. Avoid being judgmental about your children’s eating behavior
Try to maintain a neutral stance and avoid commenting on the types or amounts of food they eat. Remember that you have fulfilled your role as a parent by serving nutritious meals and that it is now up to your children to decide what they eat. If you take on the role of a food dictator by constantly asking them to finish their vegetables, you will likely encounter opposition from your child.
4. Go slow when introducing new foods to kids
It is natural for children to have an aversion to unfamiliar flavors. I always remind my children that sometimes their taste buds need time to adjust before they can appreciate the taste of certain foods. If you think your child is not getting enough nutrients, discuss this immediately with your pediatrician.
5. Get creative with toppings
Add excitement to nutritious meals by getting creative with toppings. Children will be happy and will surely engage in eating healthy food.
6. Develop your children’s cooking skills
Do this by involving your children in the process of choosing or preparing meals, their interest in consuming what they have contributed will grow. Take them to the supermarket where they can manually select the products for you. If they’re age appropriate, give them permission to slice vegetables and add them to a salad. This way they will develop an interest in cooking as well as food.
7. Offer them their favorite foods
They should be allowed to eat their favorite foods like pizza, burgers, fries, crisps or cakes from time to time. Hire an expert who can guide you on how to help children develop a positive approach to eating well.
By keeping these tips in mind, you may be able to help your child develop healthy eating habits. If your child still isn’t eating healthy, see a pediatrician to check for an underlying problem.