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Mothers will know that it has always been a challenge to encourage kids to eat healthy. While a healthy diet and providing adequate nutrition is the goal of each and every parent, kids are naturally inclined to eat junk food and relish sugary drinks, just like us. If you’re wondering how to help them switch their eating patterns, these steps may come in handy.
To know how to encourage kids to turn to a balanced meal, Health Shots got in touch with nutritionist Dr Kriti Israni, who is also a child development and parenting expert.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to encourage kids is to mimic ‘healthy’ behaviour and healthy eating. Kids love to eat in general what their parents eat. If the meal preparation in general is healthy; sooner or later kids tend to eat the same meals.
As we introduce solids to kids as old as 6 months, it is a good idea to leave them with raw fruits and vegetables and let them explore these foods. It is one of the methods of creating awareness and developing interest in fruits and vegetables from a young age. “Later you can extend this free play by letting your toddler explore some healthy meal preparations as an activity; without any force and just observe what they like and how they respond . Additionally, it encourages vocabulary building in toddlers,” says Dr Israni, who is also the founder of Hale and Hearty kids.
Another successful technique is to involve kids in preparations of healthy meals. This has a very deep psychological impact as you end up creating a positive connection with your child and healthy meal preparation is associated with happy intimate moments in the child’s mind. So if used calmly and wisely; the act of preparing healthy meals can have a positive impact on children’s eating habits.
A creative way is to bring up conversations about what healthy eating habits are, how to prepare healthy meals and what are the benefits associated with it. Obviously, the conversations have to be as per child’s age group. Other techniques are to encourage healthy eating using pretend play, storytelling and singing. You must have seen wooden fruits and vegetables toys, heard story about how an apple a day keeps doctors away and rhymes on apples and bananas. Similarly; you can encourage healthy eating through fun and play.
When it is appealing to your sight, you are encouraged to try it. Same goes for children. If your child is giving you a tough time, enhance your presentation skills. Use colours, shapes, personalized messages and simple creative plate displays to encourage your child to eat.
Remember that the foundation of a healthy future begins during childhood, and that makes it necessary to help them make the right food choices.