10 effective tips to help your child develop good eating habits | Health - Hindustan Times

10 effective tips to help your child develop good eating habits

Sep 08, 2023 05:55 PM IST

Here are ten expert approved tips to help your child develop excellent eating habits that will set them on a path to lifelong health and well-being.

Establishing healthy eating habits in children is one of the most important responsibilities of parents. However, this is sadly neglected as most parents succumb to their children's whims and tantrums and are unable to establish this. Proper nutrition is paramount to their physical growth, cognitive development, and long-term health. Poor eating patterns in early life can follow your children into adulthood. They can lead to health problems and a complicated relationship with food. By teaching children about healthy food and eating habits when they're young, you can set them up for a lifetime of good health.

Establishing healthy eating habits in children is vital for their overall growth, development, and lifelong well-being. (Unsplash/Tanaphong Toochinda)
Establishing healthy eating habits in children is vital for their overall growth, development, and lifelong well-being. (Unsplash/Tanaphong Toochinda)

In the age, where processed foods and snacks are becoming the norm, how do parents establish healthy eating habits and foster love for healthy wholesome food at home? Don't worry, we are here to help. Dr Paula Goel, Paediatrician and Adolescent Specialist shared with HT Lifestyle 10 effective tips to foster good eating habits in children. (Also read: Why are children in India getting type 2 diabetes, usually seen in adults? Tips to prevent it )

Tips to develop good eating habits in children

1. Start early and stay consistent: Introduce a variety of foods to your child from an early age. Babies are more willing to try new tastes between 6 to 12 months. Be patient and continue to consistently offer a variety of foods, you can shape their palate early on.

2. Be a role model: Children mirror their parents. If they see you enjoying fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, they are more likely to try and like them too. Eat together as a family and make it a joyful experience.

3. Engage them in the process: Take your children grocery shopping and let them pick out a new vegetable or fruit to try. Encourage them to assist in the kitchen. When children feel connected to the process, they are more interested in the result.

4. Avoid getting junk food at home: While occasional treats are okay, avoid keeping junk food as a regular part of your pantry. If it's not in the house, it won't be a daily temptation. Keep fresh fruits, nuts, dried fruits at home as snacks

5. Avoid using food as a reward or punishment: This can establish an emotional connection to food, which might lead to overeating or developing an unhealthy relationship with certain foods later in life

6. Regular meal and snack times: Establish set times for meals and snacks. This not only ensures that your child receives nutrition throughout the day but also helps them recognize the signs of hunger and fullness. Breakfast should be the main meal of the day. Eating regular meals and mid-day snacks ( fruits, nuts, vegetables ) ensures that your child will not remain hungry and gorge on snacks that are loaded with sugar and salt.

7. Make food fun: Presentation matters! Make use of colourful vegetables to make a rainbow plate or use cookie cutters to shape sandwiches. A visually appealing plate can be enticing for a child.

8. Encourage self-regulation: Teach children to listen to their bodies. Let them know it's okay to stop eating when they are full and that they should eat when they are genuinely hungry, not just bored

9. Educate on the benefits: In age-appropriate ways, talk to your child about how different foods help them. For instance, “Carrots are good for your eyes,” or “Milk strengthens your bones.” This can make them more interested in what they eat.

10. Stay patient and persistent: Children's taste buds are constantly evolving. They might reject a food today and love it a few months later. Offer a rejected food multiple times before deciding they genuinely dislike it. And remember, every child is unique; what works for one might not work for another.

Fostering healthy eating habits in children is a journey. With patience, consistency, and the right strategies, you can set the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating choices not only for your child but your entire family.

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