‘Food for Thought’
Working with children for many years, I have not only dealt with the challenges regarding the tiny tots but also the grievances of parents who have one common
‘bone of contention’ with their kids-‘food’. It’s not a hidden fact that making children eat the right kind of food is less than a battle. But one must understand that by encouraging healthy food habits at an early age will not only inculcate a healthy habit in them but also help them grow into healthy adults. Children have their own preferences when it comes to choosing the kind of food they would want to eat, so the challenge lies in making healthy food attractive and appealing.No doubt,it’s an elephant’s task to make your child choose a particular kind of food. You would want them to eat an apple and they would rather fight over a piece of cake. And in this tug- of-war one can always compromise on their favorite treat, once in a while. Children are observant and tend to replicate and imitate adults. Being a role model helps if you want to instill good food habit. You enjoying a piece of broccoli can interest them in having one, too. Do not expect your child to enjoy vegetables when you are enjoying a piece of pizza. Once your child is able to feed him or herself you can try a wide variety of foods and use your creativity to make the food look interesting and fun. Inclusion of grains, vegetables, fruits, milk and meat is vital. New colours, taste and texture can be introduced while making the food appealing and fun for your child.
What should be the quantity of food is another question that we constantly dabble with. Well, decide what kind of food is to be offered and when they are to be eaten and let your child decide how much to eat because their day to day appetite changes and this is normal. It is always better to cut the food into small pieces and watch your child eat. Making the ‘yummy’ sound or showing through your expression as to how wonderful the food tastes, helps. However, one should remember that there are certain kinds of food that should be avoided as it may lead to choking and can cause problem to children. So it is better to be careful not to include food such as grapes, nuts, seeds, popcorn, raisins to name a few. Another challenge we face is when children fuss over anything and everything served to them. Force feeding is only going to make things worse. The one technique which seems to work is the ‘one bite policy’. Your aim is not to have your child finish that particular kind of food but to develop a liking towards it. Another technique is to introduce new food at the start of the meals when your child is most hungry. Sometimes children get ‘hooked on’ to a certain kind of food, this is but normal. However, try to include other options with the food they just cannot do without and try adding variety to it. It is always better to start off the meals with smaller portions and if he or she chooses to eat more you can always go for a second helping. There is no set guide book to advise you regarding what kind of food your child is going to like or dislike. Trial and error is the only method parents can resort to, However, while doing so it is always advisable to set a good example of healthy eating for a child. Planning regular meals and snacks. Making sure that it’s a quiet time when children eat because children seem to eat better when they are relaxed. Try and involve the child when you are making his or her food. show them the colour, shape and size so that it arouses an interest in them to taste the food, you never know what they might like. Children can be a picky, fussy, stubborn when it comes to eating habits but a little creativity,fun and a little patience can help you achieve your goal.