While it may be a struggle in the beginning when raising a healthy eater , the long-term goal is to build healthy habits that your child can carry with them throughout their entire life.
Whether you are raising a single child, a large troupe or are just beginning to think about starting a family, one thing is for certain—raising healthy eaters can be a challenge. Raising a healthy eater does not happen overnight. As a parent, it is important to teach your children the importance of consuming wholesome, fresh and unprocessed foods.
A great starting point would be to understand that little bodies are exactly that—littler and smaller sized than ours! Hence, what you choose to feed your child matters even more, as their bellies naturally fill up faster and their hunger is more easily satiated. Besides stomach size, knowing the way your kid’s tummy communicates with their brain is also helpful when monitoring your child’s eating behaviour. Your child’s brain understands its tummy is full only about 20 minutes after the food has been consumed.
The taste buds of a child are also different from an adult’s, which means it could take a few times and tries before a child can ascertain if they will enjoy a certain food. So don’t throw in the towel too soon if your child rejects eating something initially. Take another opportunity to try offering the food again, perhaps prepared and presented in a different manner. You may be surprised at your child’s reaction this time!
How receptive your child is towards food may also be influenced by hunger. Providing meals at regular times will encourage an appetite at regular times, as your child’s tummy “clock” will instinctively await to be fed at these same times every day.
It’s quite normal for children’s appetites to be erratic up into early childhood. Use that to your advantage: on days when they seem ravenous, try to offer more healthy options. However, don’t worry too much on the days when your child’s interest wanes. Eventually, all kids will make up for any calorie deficit at the next meal or during the following days. It’s not good to force your child to eat and turn mealtimes into unpleasant scenes. Not only will your child associate food with conflict, force feeding will also prompt them not to pay heed to their appetite.
Eating at regular intervals and in proportionate amounts are equally good starting points to observe in your mission to raise healthy young eaters. Take the lead by making smart food choices for yourself first, since all children learn from examples set at home. Heathy eating is not an isolated choice but a family affair, so involve your spouse and children as much as you can! Here are other ways to approach the process.
1. Keep healthy foods in easy view and reach. For example, ensure that an enticing bowl of fresh fruit is always on the kitchen counter. Try filling your selection with different colours, textures and perhaps tastes to sustain more interest. Arrange your refrigerator and cabinets so that healthy foods are the first things that they see and can conveniently eat with minimal independent prep.
2. Involve your kids in heathy eating decisions. When stocking up your home’s pantry, ask your kids along on trips to the supermarket or wet market and turn these excursions into interactive info-laden sessions on anything from produce to packaging! Rope your kids in when planning the week’s menu; prepare family meals together; have your kid mix the ingredients and help serve the food to the rest of the family. Kids who are involved are more likely to be willing participants in the eating process.
3. Make mealtimes matter. The importance of regular, fixed times for meals around the table cannot be emphasised enough. Start with one night a week, and then work up to three or four, to gradually build the habit. Research also highlights that something as simple as having dinner as a family on a regular basis can even influence children as they grow into adolescence, with evidence indicating that they will be less prone to develop risky behaviours such as drug and alcohol abuse; eating disorders; and tend to be better socially adjusted.
4. Associate healthy eating with healthy mental images. Raising healthy eaters doesn’t just involve the body; it’s a state of mind too. Revolving healthy eating around enjoyable, light-hearted activities and moments is a long-term investment as kids thrive on positive reinforcement. Our lives are so intimately intertwined with food that there’s no surprise its flavours and fragrance are able to evoke fond nostalgia.
5. Never use food as a means to an end. Although positive and memorable experiences can be created around food, parents should be mindful not to use food directly and explicitly as a means of achieving desired behaviour. Experts say that such practices—that is, when food is used as a parenting tool to bribe, reward, discipline, or punish—could lead to their kids having an unhealthy relationship with food in future.
6. Let lapses lapse! In other words, cut yourself—and the rest of your family—some slack whenever missteps occur during your healthy eating journey. Perhaps one of the most important things to consider when raising healthy little eaters is flexibility. Adopting a tyrannical and rigid attitude towards any food is not recommended. Never ever scold, punish or pile on the guilt if they ever make the occasional request for something unhealthy or you notice them snacking on something they shouldn’t. Kids will be kids after all—keep your expectations realistic and all will be well.
After all, in all honesty, eating—and eating healthily at that—really shouldn’t be a complicated activity!
One piece of expert advice regarding eating is to always provide at least one food that is not only high in nutritional value, but is something that your child enjoys. By now, you’re probably shaking your head, wondering how to kill two birds with one stone.
How wonderful it would be if this “one food” could be something edible that tastes good, is easy to prepare and supplements their diet with the right goodness, and best of all, is something that your child actually looks forward to consuming every day? Have you ever thought of a daily smoothie?
For kids who are erratic eaters or grazers, making smoothies a part of their daily diet is one of the best things you can do to keep them eating healthy. It’s also really convenient, fast and easy to whip up, not to mention yummy to boot!
Here are benefits of the homemade smoothie!
1. You control what goes into it, and what matters is that the final product tastes great.
2. Can be enjoyed by everyone in the family and not just your kids.
3. It’s a fuss-free way to increase your kids’ daily consumption of fruits and veggies.
4. A smoothie packs a punch of vitamins and minerals without the need to add extra or artificial sweeteners as there are natural sugars in the fruits and vegetables which help prevent energy crashes.
5. Smoothies are nutrient-dense and provide levels of sustained energy for longer periods, resulting in less hunger pangs (and the need for unhealthy snacking)!
Smoothies are so simple that all it takes are these three components that make up its overall composition:
1. The liquid: Try cow’s milk; soy, oat or almond milk; unsweetened juice; or just water. You can also blend your own fresh squeezed juice from citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and lemon.
2. The fruits/veggies: These will form the base of your smoothie, and generally, the dominant taste will be determined in your choice of base fruit and/or vegetables. It’s also up to you how many varieties you wish to add, but it’s good to take note which have mild or strong flavours. For fruits, good choices are mixed berries, bananas, peaches, mangoes, honeydews and pineapples. For veggies, the usual suspects include celery, carrot, Romaine lettuce, spinach and alfalfa sprouts. Chop or dice the fruits and veggies first so that the smaller pieces will be easier to blend.
3. The extras: Try organic natural yoghurt, honey, or Kinohimitsu Superfood+ Kids, which is carefully formulated from 7-colour ingredients:
multigrain (contains 22 types of grains for a good source of complex carbohydrates and fibre; colostrum (promotes good digestive health and immunity); isolated soy protein (for healthy growth and energy); DHA (source of good fats essential for brain, eye and central nervous system), milk calcium complex (for strong teeth and bones), lactoferrin (bolsters immunity) and super berries (rich in antioxidants for overall good health).
The Superberry Smoothie
This version is delicious and easy-to-make. Great for growing kids!
Method: Add all the ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend to the desired consistency. Pour and drink up whilst still fresh!
If you liked this article, Like the Kids World Facebook Page as well!
Share your thoughts! If you have a similar story to share, tell us! We’d love to hear from you. Or you may also request an article on topics you’d like to read about.Find Out More