How To Encourage Your Child To Healthy Food Habits

Posted by Nirmala Subramanian on Tue, Jan 12, 2010  
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This is a common complaint that parents have about their children that they do not eat healthy food. Most parents try to cultivate good and healthy food habits in their children, but may find it difficult to do so, since parents are more targeted that the children should eat rather than eat healthy food. Love and patience can go a long way in building healthy food habits in your child. We need to encourage the child to eat healthy food.


Children learn many habits from their parents in the formative years. So parents have to appreciate and eat good and healthy food for children to learn to do so. In some families the parents and others itself have fussy food habits. Children will then find nothing good or worthwhile to pick up healthy food habits. Parents being the first role model for their children should eat a lot of vegetables and fruits and cereals and wholegrain for a child to learn to eat them. To cultivate this habit it is good for the whole family to have their meals together. Dinner could be the meal that all eat together. This will also be a means where the child learns table manners and to be polite to all.


In addition meal times should be family times where the family spends quality time together and it should also be a time of happiness and fun. The parents and grandparents should encourage the child to eat good and healthy food by suggesting it is good for him/her and will help them to grow tall/big/strong and so on. Never force a child to eat any food. Scolding, hitting or punishing the child will only make him have a wrong attitude towards food and mealtimes.


Next the parents should put small amounts of various foods on his plate, so that he can taste them and cultivate a taste for them. Let him pick and eat what he likes and the parents should closely observe and find out his taste for various foods. In the course of time he may cultivate the taste for other foods also. In addition try to make what he likes more often for meals so he associates mealtimes with good times.


When the parents want to cultivate the taste for a good healthy food it is better not to give the child anything much before that meal. When children feel hungry they tend to eat all sorts of food and cultivate a taste for that food.  Resist the temptation to give a snack, fruit juice or a low-fat dairy product an hour before a meal. Besides being imaginative and creative in making of food helps to cultivate the right appetite for food in the child. Cut the vegetables and fruit in various shapes and put them in salads. In addition create a rainbow of colors in the food by using various colors of fruits and vegetables. Also include nuts to make food really nutritious. Parents can use vegetables like red pepper, green pepper, carrots, lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes. Include variety in food by preparing different things with the same item daily to introduce variety. You could mix it with yogurt on the first day, make a spaghetti dish with it the next day, put them in pancake on the next day, bake them on the next day, use it with peanut butter in sandwiches on the next day. There should be slight variations each day so as to provide variety and a balanced diet. This will make the child to eagerly look forward to each meal. 


In addition, dear parents do not categorize food as breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Encouraging the child to eat healthy food is more necessary. If your child does not eat it would be good to just tactfully take away the plate than force a child to eat   Negative emotions would only discourage a fussy child further to try out a healthy food item. Also a tactful parent should allow the child to eat as and how he likes.  Some children feel encouraged to eat different foods separately; placing sandwich fillings or salads separately outside the bread. Doing this would encourage the child to eat healthy food better.   


Being a tactful parent involves serving your child’s favorite fruit, chocolates or desserts only after the meal. This would encourage the child to eat better and look forward to the dessert once he is finished. Special desserts like sweets and ice cream should be served only once a while on weekends. 


I can already see most parents geared up to make a success of encouraging their child to eat good healthy food. I am sure you will succeed.


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