Children who eat healthily will be less likely to grow up with chronic conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some malignancies. They will also feel better and achieve more success in life as a result.
Building a healthy relationship with food early in life is essential. Are they growing up believing that roti-sabji or rice-daal is something they must have every day, but a fun meal is full of refined sugar, flour, and fried food? Or are they in love with the varied yummy possibilities that healthy home-cooked meals offer?
Here are some quick tips to help your children fall in love with healthy food early in life-
- Involve children in picking and cooking fun, healthy meals. You can start them as early as three years of age, with a basic bhel puri or tricolor sandwich, and graduate to full-fledged meals. Remember to use healthy sauces to make your bhel puri, not the usual ones with sodium benzoate (INS 211)
- Build and encourage healthy food as the food of heroes, much like Popeye did with spinach! Does their favorite superhero eat junk food or is it healthy? That is an excellent place to start a positive association. You can also get books with heroes who get superpowers from healthy meals.
- You could consider making healthy eating even more fun by doing some food art or fancy plating to elevate the status of home meals to higher than ‘fancy’ junk food. For example, you can easily roll your roti, rice, and vegetables into a burrito or make a quesadilla with some healthy sauce.
- Do include yummy protein sources in your children’s diet daily. That could be a healthy cheela, a paneer matar sabji, or a protein-rich sweet or savory spread. Same for veggies. Try to include all colors of veggies in your child’s diet for complete nutrition – red, yellow, orange, purple, blue, brown, white, and green.
- Avoid packaged foods with artificial preservatives, chemicals, or junk ingredients like refined flour, processed sugar, and fried food.
Lastly, it is easy for us to say that you should prepare nutritious food for your children, but getting them to love it and finish it is difficult because they are independent individuals with their likes and dislikes. So above all, be patient.
There are many ways to get the right food inside your child’s body. You could hide veggies and daal in almost anything and everything they eat. So let your child get comfortable and discover different foods in their own time. You want them to establish a love affair and not hatred for healthy food for life.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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