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A Simple Food Guide to busy Parents – 9 tips to encourage healthy habits in your children

Here is a simple guide to encourage healthy food habits in your children. Motivating children to eat their food and not throw will go a long way to prevent food wastage and overall child’s development.

The journey from being a child to an adult amuses one and all – our choices define and shape us for being who we are. Every child has a unique journey shaped by years of teaching by their teachers and parents alike. Over the years, one may recall and compare the kind of childhood one lived to the one kids live these days.

One such discussion popped us when I was speaking with one of my colleagues about young kids these days. The discussion started with general admiration over the level of smartness and the intelligence of the post-iPhone generation. Their adeptness in dealing with mobile phones, computers, and gadgets is phenomenal. The innate curiosity and large scale information accessibility (read YouTube, Social media, etc.) have made many of them so smart that a 10-year-old can easily win over a 50-year-old in an argument. In my house, it’s quite common to see my 6-year-old nephew teaching intricacies of smartphone features & settings to his grandmother.

Soon the conversation meandered towards their food and eating habits. Whatever strides the kids have made on technology, regarding their food choices, they have always been finicky and selective. A constant tussle and struggle over food are witnessed across many households between adults and the little ones. Whether it is milk versus soft drinks, chips versus green leafy vegetables, burgers versus oats, we all know where their loyalties lie.

Probably one thing that has changed in the last few decades is the demanding lifestyle and constant pressure that most of the parents live in. The nuclear family set up doesn’t allow the luxury of having a grandparent or other adults to monitor kids. It is difficult for parents to provide adequate attention to their kids. The busy parents spend the little time they have on inquiring about the kids’ studies or other pertinent things. Value of food, encouraging healthy eating habits sometimes take the backseat which leads to kids not eating properly or wasting food they don’t like.

Indulging kids with chips and cakes once in a while can never be a problem, but parents should also ensure to teach their kids the virtue of healthy living. Eating right and not wasting food can go a long way in a child’s growth and development.

Below are a few tips for parents on food habits for their children – make your kids little more conscious of food, eating habits and impacts of food wastage –

  1. Lead by example; ensure as a parent or a guardian to never waste food
  2. Tell them about the pains and efforts it takes to bring food to the plate. It’s not the monetary aspects but about the journey of food from farm to fork.
  3. Tell them about the less fortunate who sleep hungry. (According to a report from the United Nations food agencies, globally 815 million people regularly go to bed hungry)
  4. A harsher way would be to serve the same food as the next meal if they don’t consume it fully. Though it may feel odd to serve the same food again this may imbibe the value of food among children.
  5. Have meals together as a family, watching other members enjoying the food, motivates them to do the same.
  6. Give smaller portions of both kind of food – one that they are fond of and other which they are not but is healthy.
  7. Take sneaky ways to make them eat vegetables. Pureed or mashed vegetables added to pancakes or bread.
  8. Present the food in attractive plates, adding color by mixing and matching food items. As the saying goes – look attracts first.
  9. Motivate children to finish their food because their favorite heroes, be it virtual or real, do so. Avengers and popeye all finish their meals.

Most importantly, action speaks more than words. Model the behavior, you expect, in yourself. Hence it is pertinent for an adult to follow a disciplined approach in their own lifestyles as well – a quick video that shows 7 steps to avoid Food wastage in our day to day lives.

Eating habits children pick up young. It helps them to maintain a healthy lifestyle when they see adults do it.

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