We all know the importance of eating well balanced meals and establishing a healthy relationship with food. But with the abundance of junk food and the allure of sugar in just about everything, it’s getting harder and harder to eat clean and healthy. But one thing that parents must understand is that the habit of healthy eating is something that they must consciously cultivate in their kids from an early age. However, shifting from milk to solid foods isn’t always an easy transition. And oftentimes, babies can be fussy and difficult, making the parents frustrated. So they’ll give their little one just about anything they will eat, even if it’s only carrot and apple puree for a week straight. But this just won’t do. After all, this is your baby’s time to explore and experience new tastes and textures. This is also when they start to learn how to eat nutritious, balanced meals. So, if you’re looking to help your child form a healthy relationship with food, read on!
1. Build Balanced Meals
This means building meals that incorporate a small portion of all the major nutrient groups, which are starch, protein, veggies, fruits and healthy fats. It is important to not cut out any major food group or to prefer one over the other. They all have a vital role to play so don’t neglect any one of these groups. Many people have an aversion to carbs but you need carbs for energy. Many parents also want their kids to avoid fat but without it they’ll have a hard time feeling full. Everything in moderation is what you should be aiming for.
2. Teach Your Kids To Be Aware Of Their Hunger And Fullness Cues And Honor Them
Well at least you won’t have to do any of the heavy lifting on this front. Kids are very in touch with their hunger and fullness cues since birth. So all you need to do as a parent is follow your little one’s lead. We are sure they’ll let you know when they are hungry, but this also means listening to your kids when they tell you they’re full. If your toddler is at the table and doesn’t want to finish the last three spoons of their meal because they are full, that’s okay! And we know what you’re thinking, “What if my child never wants to eat?” We’re not suggesting that you allow them to neglect meal time altogether. But when it comes to how much of the food they consume, as long as they are satisfied and no longer hungry, the number of spoons really doesn’t matter. If your child would much rather eat smaller portions throughout the day than 3 big meals, allow them to do just that. They will soon work up an appetite to eat 3 solid meals a day. The most important thing to encourage is them listening to their body for hunger and fullness cues so that they are neither undereating nor overeating.
3. Teach Kids That There Is No Such Thing As Good Food And Bad Food
Yes, this includes chocolates too! It’s true that there are some foods that your child should consume more of than others but at the end of the day food is just food. The only thing that can make it harmful to us is the quantity of a particular food group that we consume. So instead of telling your kids that sweets are forbidden or bad foods, simply tell them that they are treats to be had once in a while and not regularly. Human beings often want what they can’t have. So, you telling your kids to stay away from snacks and treats only make them more enticing. This is why it’s important to not make things like sugar completely off limits to your kids. The aim is to ensure that your child enjoys all kinds of foods so that they have a well rounded diet in order to stay healthy.
4. Give Your Kids Permission To Enjoy Food
Help your children understand the joy of eating a good meal while also teaching them healthy ways to self soothe and not use eating as a coping mechanism. Food is what fuels us. So teach your kids what every food group can do for their body. You can also delve into the deep cultural traditions and emotional attachments you have to certain dishes. Tell them stories about how your parents used to make your favorite dishes for you. Sharing happy memories associated with meals can also help your child view them positively and give it a fair shot!
Kids can be picky, especially when it comes to food. But with a few tips and tricks, you can teach your kids to eat well balanced meals and have a healthy relationship with food!