Have you wondered why most children tend naturally prefer unhealthy food? Here is a scientific explanation- Kids need lots of energy, way more than adults. As such, they instinctively turn towards the food which can provide them with lots of energy (especially in the form of glucose, the body's preferred fuel). Vegetables aren't calorically dense, so they don't provide much energy.
Although this seems justifiable as to why kids turn against vegetables and fruits, that is not the way to go. Healthy eating is vital for the child's growth and development. Thus, ROYBI is here with a well-curated list of hacks to establish healthy eating habits in children.
Eating healthy gets you a long way. Gut health is a primary deciding factor to many diseases and lifestyle disorders. Healthy metabolism signifies a healthy individual. In the case of children, at least until the age of 2, we cannot explain theories to them on why veggies are good, but we can teach practices at home so that they don't pick out vegetables when they grow up. Once they are in the toddler stage, ROYBI can take over to educate them with lovely stories about vegetables, fruits, and health.
Infants are instinctual and always only follow what they trust. So the best way would be to have enough supplies of fruits and vegetables at home as soon as they are on solids, start giving them unsweetened vegetable mashes and foods. Not giving them sugary foods until the age of two will help them develop a liking for non-sugary stuff. Not to deprive them of sugars, but to control how much they intake. An occasional birthday cake is okay, but do not have them indulge in sugars just to keep them calm. It is highly unhealthy for the body. So in their early development stages, if they are comfortable and enjoying non-sweetened foods, that will go a long way for them.
Here are a few other techniques to encourage and educate on healthy eating-
It is best when healthy eating does not come forced. Thus, practicing these in childhood can make them adults who don't feel like they are depriving themselves of good food when they have to cut out on junk and unhealthy foods.
Do not dictate your families’ food choices-
Have a wide range of healthy food available in the house, thus giving children an opportunity to choose. And not feel controlled.
Encourage slow eating
Eating slowly and chewing well is good for the gut and is an excellent practice to help them recognize fullness. Wait until 15 minutes and ask your child if they are still hungry for a second serving.
Yes, to more and more meals with the family
Eat together, and it is vital for the eating time to be a pleasant time for the child. If mealtimes are unhappy, the child would want to leave soon and start associating meal times with stress and uncertainty.
Involve your child in food shopping
These activities will give you ideas about your child's food preferences and choices. It is also an opportunity to teach your child about nutrition and provide them with a feeling of accomplishment. In addition, children may be more willing to eat or try foods that they help prepare.