Want a good nutrition for your child? Be a role model!
I remember growing up, I had a few meals that I hated and my mom would beg me to try them, without much success. These were spinach and cabbage and I refused them for a long while, until I rediscovered them in my adult life and I absolutely love them now. I have seen how taste can be educated and a positive image of a certain food makes you more susceptible to liking it.
That brings me to a very important mission for every parent: getting your kid to like healthy food, getting over the fussiness and the drama when broccoli shows up on the plate, for example. It is not easy and I’m sure every parent or caretaker out there had to go through a tantrum for eating the vegetables.
It’s easy to be frustrated at times and it’s tempting to just give your child the food that he wants, but highly palatable food is quite often unhealthy, full of sugar (which kids adore) or fat. Other parents are trying to reinforce eating healthy food by offering sweets or junk food as a reward – this is not effective at all, this will not make your kid like healthy food more, he will just want more of the reward.
So how do you convince the little ones to eat their fruit and vegetable and develop a taste for them? As you know, children will often mimic the behavior of the adults close to them. So if you are telling your child that he should eat his carrots while you are sitting at the TV eating chips, you are sending the wrong message and your good intentions might not be good enough for setting healthy habits.
The hard way - restrictions
Some parents might be tempted to just impose a healthy diet and restrict access to unhealthy food altogether. Of course, your child will be used to eating vegetables and nutritious food, but some studies have shown that individuals who grew up with restrictive eating habits might develop weight problems in their adult life.
Unhealthy food becomes desirable for a child, because it is forbidden. That person will binge eat later in life and overindulge the kind of food they did not have as children.On the other hand, pushing and forcing healthy food on them will make them reject it.
The easy, fun way – being a role model
I want to get back to the idea of children mimicking adults around them. If we want to shape a healthy diet and varied tastes in our children, we need to use this advantage as much as possible. We won’t be able to control what he or she will eat at school or later with friends, but we can show that food doesn’t have to be full of fat and sugar to be delicious.
I would strongly recommend eating at home as much as possible. It’s difficult to cook every day and I can understand the lack of time, but there are so many cooking hacks and simple solutions to make an easy, quick and healthy meal! Invest in a slow cooker, plan your meals ahead and cook on Sundays – you can also involve your kids in the process, it will make it fun for them and they can choose the ingredients or decorate their plate as they wish.
Eat your meals together as much as possible, eliminate all distractions (TV, tablets, mobiles etc.) and talk to each other while eating. Make dinner or lunch a family moment and serve the same food to everyone – a kid will be persuaded much easier to eat something new if they see someone else eating eat and enjoying it.
The bottom line is that you need to think in the long term and invest in a healthy lifestyle; be right beside your children on this path and it will become a second nature for them. Don’t keep them away from pizzas and fries, but make them yourself. It is an excellent opportunity to cook healthy, and even involve them in the process. If the kids see that you’re making a nice-looking pizza, they won’t have a problem that you’re adding spinach or peppers to it – that’s still a pizza, only it’s a lot healthier.
By Charles Goodwin and Supplemented.co.uk!