Parents will have to think of ways to feed their children with ‘good food”, during the early years of parenthood in an ever increasing sugar-laden, processed food environment.
A child eats what is on his plate based on his mood, who feeds him, the meal time, colours on the plate, the surrounding environment and sometimes the company he shares. It is important for parents to monitor what foods the child eats and how much. A compromise in the quality of food served as snacks during early childhood evolves into an eventual formation of a habit of excessive food craving in later life.
The quality of a meal is determined by the nutrients it provides. Going green leaves no better choice. The frequency of meal timings, the habit of nibbling between meals, peer pressure or having one’s food in a group and individual taste preferences form some of the factors that, if left uncontrolled, might lead to overweight or obese conditions.
Some better ways to encourage your child to have a healthy diet are:
- Emphasize colours and variety; children love this!
- Add vegetables and fruits in your child’s daily diet in the form of fresh salads, sandwich fillings, so that children love to have more. Try new recipes with fruit and vegetable fillings the way they love it.
- Encourage healthy snacking. Snacking can be made healthy by including foods like nuts, fruit slices and low-fat yoghurt.
- A habit of mechanical munching in children, sitting in front of the TV, laptops and playing video games need to be discouraged.
- Irregular meal timings and overfeeding practices in children calls for a probability of developing weight gain and obesity in them at a later stage.
- Ensure frequent intake of water by your child, to regain lost body fluids. Milk and fresh juices with less added sugars should also form a part of their diet.
- ALWAYS eat Breakfast…..Be a role model and lead by example.
- Have a healthy eating pattern and involve light physical activity daily. Children will observe and try to imitate what their parents do.
- Parents should ensure that the child eats enough of grains, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and fish from his diet; so that his body’s adequate nutrient needs are met.
A healthy food consumption pattern introduced during the early stages of a child’s development would go a long way in building an overall healthy lifestyle.