Dealing with children’s eating habits

As a dietician I come across many parents who are disturbed about their children’s eating habits. Some complain that their child refuses all types of fruit and vegetables while the other wants the same food at every meal.  It turns out to be very frustrating when your child rejects the food that you prepare. At the same time getting used to new foods can be troubling for the child. My advice to the parents is to be very patient with the child, as how they react will have an impact on the child’s behavior. It is also important to note that eating habits and tastes are formed from an early age, so a variety of foods are very important from the outset.

Avoid forcing your child

Parents at times tend to force their children to eat. As parents you need to help your children learn to love food and guide them on healthy eating habits. Make them aware of the benefits of eating all types of foods.

Be patient when introducing new foods

Research suggests that it may take 10 or even 15 tries before a child will accept a new food, so gently but frequently offer new kinds of foods. It is always advisable to introduce new foods along with old tested and accepted ones.

Get your child involved

Take your child along with you for vegetable shopping, so that your child knows where the food is coming from and the other facts related to it.

Have your little one assist you with measuring, pouring, or stirring in cooking. Participating in the process of cooking helps your child get comfortable with the idea of eating it.

Be a role model

If you want your child to get into good eating habits then eat a range of healthy foods yourself. Setting a good example is the best way you can encourage your child to eat well.

Working on presentation

Well-presented food is appealing to everyone. Different shaped breads, star shaped carrots, and mashed potato and cheese stuffed in capsicum. Kids are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables when they’re presented in visually interesting ways.

Minimize distractions

Avoiding distractions like television, video games will help the child focus on his food.  Eating dinner as a family may help kids be less fussy about food.  Having fun discussions and activities with your child can be very relaxing.

Don’t offer sweets as a reward

Parents get into making deals with their children for eating their food. Deals likes these do not help in the long run. Getting sweets as a reward for eating vegetables and dal can have a negative impact on the child.

Don’t be a short-order cook

Avoid getting into the habit of making alternate food for your child when he rejects what’s on his plate. This will get him into the habit of doing so frequently. Let the child learn to accept the same food as the rest of the family.

Parents need to remember that their child’s eating habits will not change overnight and that they need to be very patient if they want to promote a lifetime of healthy eating. This is just a passing phase, which will fade, as the child grows older.


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