Parents often worry about their child’s eating habits and often feel that they are not getting a balanced diet. The more a parent worries or shows the anxiety, the more picky a child would become.
If the parents push the child too much, the child may end up hating any kind of food. However, it is not the parents to be blamed always. Kids reject food over a variety of reasons like jealousy over a new sibling, illness, being away from parent, being with strangers, fatigue etc.
Here is some useful information to help your kid eat better and have a more balanced diet.
Make meal times more interesting
Offer them food when they are in a happy mood. If they balk at food or push it away, don’t get angry or threaten them with physical punishment. This will make them all the more stubborn and chances are that they will remain hungry and not eat food.
Tell them that you will take away the food for now and can offer it when they are hungry. You can also ask them if they want to eat it themselves as kids like to copy elders and like to eat food themselves. They may make a mess, but still it is better than eating nothing. Always appreciate them when they finish a meal successfully. Never force a kid to eat more than they want.
Leave a gap of minimum 2-2.5 hours in between feeding. Children need three proper meals a day plus 2-3 times of snacking. If they eat often, they may not feel hungry at the next meal time.
Introduce variety in their meals. Not only kids, but grown-ups also don’t feel like eating the same kind of food all the time. Try different shapes of pasta, breakfast cereals or vegetables cut into different shapes and added to rice, stir fries etc.
Try pulaos, noodles, different types of breads like tortilla, chappatis, pita bread etc. Try to offer different fruits for snacks. Eggs, fish and meat can also be cooked in different ways. Present the food in an attractive manner in plates/bowls of different shapes/colours.
Get them involved– Letting them choose the food and vegetables from the market and preparing it involving them always makes it more appealing to them.
You can let them choose their vegetables and involve them in washing it clean or ask them to stir the pancake mixture or garnish a soup. This sense of involvement works wonders even if your cleaning work is doubled after they do it. Showing them how their food is being grown in a farm also make them more interested.
Don’t give up on a rejected food. Kids might eat a rejected food if offered after a few weeks with slight modifications.
Never bribe them saying that you can have pudding once you finish your rice or you will have to keep bribing them all the time to eat food.
Eating with older children may help. Kids like to copy others and like eating with others. They may even eat the food that they always hated.
Getting enough exercise is important
Getting enough opportunity to play and run around definitely improves their appetite.
Eating only what they like. Some kids refuse to eat anything other than what they like. They might have only cake three times a day. For some days this is ok, but if it continues, you have to think of ways to make other foods attractive to him.
If you invest a little time to find out your kids food preferences and also try experimenting a bit , making them eat properly is not so hard to achieve.