Monitoring your child’s diet, the right way – Nutrition Week Special Edition
One of the major challenges in the early stages of parenting comes in the form of nuisance that kids are known to create while eating. From half-eaten meals to skipping healthy veggies, children can be fussy eaters and unfortunately it is not a good thing for their healthy growth.
When children throw tantrums with food, they are missing out on the essential nutrients that they need. But at such tender age, they aren’t aware of the side-effects of skipped meals. Therefore, parents need to be extra careful in ensuring that their children are getting all the nutrients recommended for the day.
Ideal Meal Prep for children
Before we address the problem of food tantrum thrown by kids, let’s first understand what would be an ideal meal for your child. Essential nutrients such as protein, vitamins, calcium, minerals, carbohydrates, fibre and healthy fats should make it your child’s tummy.
Fruits, vegetables and whole grain products are a great source of energy for your children which packs a nutritious punch in their meal. When it comes to meal preparation, it could become a challenge as kids tend to be picky when they spot veggies in their meal. So, add on colorful food variants to make it look interesting.
Dr. Gokul Bora who’s one of the senior-most pediatricians in Assam suggest parents to adopt the traditional way of preparing meals for children which indicates cutting down on packet products and prioritizing fresh home-cooked meals. It’s an important advice coming from a pediatrician who holds 45 years of experience in the field along with being associated with several reputed organizations such as the IAP Guwahati City Branch (President, 1995-1997), National Neonatology Forum, Assam State Branch (2002-2004), Guwahati Child Welfare Society (General Secretary), and also the Juvenile Welfare Board under Govt. of Assam, among many others.
Getting your child to eat healthy
Preparing healthy meal for your children is the easy part. It’s the ‘finishing the meal’ part that is considered to be a challenge for many parents, especially in the early years of growing. There are some suggestions which can a blessing in disguise for all concerned parents.
- Creating an interesting theme around meal-time – Children are imaginative beings. So you have a better chance at getting your child to eat their meal when you play along in their imaginative world. Engage them in stories as they eat, try to reinforce a positive message about finishing meals, and keep 3-4 narratives handy, if they get bored.
- Promise them a reward – It could be their favourite toy which they are only allowed if they complete their lunch bowl or perhaps an hour of cartoon watching, provided they don’t skip their meal. However, Dr. Gokul Bora warn parents not to allow too much of screen-time, especially when smartphones are an easy distraction for kids. He makes it a point to remind this point to every parent visiting his clinic - Bora Children’s Clinic in Guwahati, where he currently practices at the age of 74.
- Setting a positive example – Kids learn by watching. And parents are their first role models. So, lead them by example by having healthy food. Make sure they know you don’t like leaving food behind and that you enjoy your meal. This may not immediately change your kids’ fussy eating approach, but will surely help reversing the habit in the long-run.
Steering clear of junk food
It’s easily the favourite kind of food that children usually prefer. But regular consumption of junk food has an adverse effect on their health and disrupts the healthy functioning of their body. When it comes to ensuring that your children eat nutritious food and stay healthy, make sure that as a parent you don’t encourage the habit of eating junk food whenever they please. Explain to them the harmful effects of having junk food and popularize healthy snacking at your home.
Lastly, remember that healthy eating habits of children not only promotes growth but also strengthens their immune system as they grow in years. So, a little effort put towards developing your child’s healthy eating habits goes a long way to benefitting their health.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Critical Script or its editor.
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