Balanced food is necessary for the healthy development of the child. The requirement of food and ingredients changes with the age. As the child grow up the quality and quantity of food required by the body changes. This makes it necessary for the parents to keep proper track of the food provided to children so that he or she undergoes healthy development of both mind and body. This it does not mean that parents should undergo training in food and nutrition to bring up their children but following some general rules will enable them to bring up healthy and happy children. Some important tips to instill good eating habits in growing children:
Eating at home: Ensure that the child gets adequate quantity of nutritious food at home. There is a desire of children to eat food outside their homes but if they are full before venturing out, they will avoid junk food. Parents, in discussion with their children, should decide what to buy and what to cook. Do not always be carried over by the desires of the children, persuade them as to what is good for them and what is not good for them.
Involve kids in cooking and food shopping: When the children are consulted about cooking, it is certain that they will enjoy the food they recommended. Some parents consider that this is like giving them excess of freedom but this freedom does work and helps in healthy and robust development of the child.
Do not force: In order to clear the plate, do not force the kids to indulge in overeating. Some parents force the child to clear the plate and eat all they have served for themselves or served by parents. When the child feels full let him get up, but generally explain that next time he serves food for himself he should not serve too much in one go. If need be he can get a second and even more servings.
Instill good habits since beginning: Food habits developed during childhood continue throughout life. Right from childhood start serving all sorts of vegetables to the child. This way he will develop a taste for all vegetables and continue to eat them. Similar is the case with meat products. If the child has disliking for something do not force him to eat that but do ask him to only try a few bites.
Keep trying something new: Let the child try new varieties of food from your plate. Generally children are fussy about the selection of food. They want their choice of food. By making them taste from your plate, they may start to eat some more varieties of food.
No soda drinks and fast foods: Always discourage your child from drinking soda drinks. These are full of sugar and have no food value. It has been seen that some children who were discouraged from drinking soda did not touch it even in the company of other kids. Instead encourage the child to try a drink made from skimmed milk. Pure pasteurized juice will also help.
Avoid sugar: Do not let the child eat too much of sugar. Desserts in limited quantity occasionally may be OK but should not be a reward for eating dinner. The child will try to reduce quantity of food and try extra serving of sweet dish.
Be a role model for your kid. In the presence of the child eat all items of food cooked and let the child also eat them. Do not skip meals even if on a diet or not hungry. Take your plate and sit with the child and give him company till he finishes his plate.
Make meal time enjoyable: Do not switch on TV at meal time. Concentrate fully on food when on the dining table. Make at least one time family meal a day, this will definitely improve eating habits in your children. It will be better to use dinner time for discussion about the day that has passed, sharing experiences of the day with other members of family. This will help to increase family bonding.