Watching your kids gorge on chocolates and fries the whole day long could be a mom’s worst nightmare. Though the importance of healthy eating has been doing the rounds in schools lately, it may not be enough. Mothers everywhere have a tough time trying to get their kids to eat veggies.
The media is also responsible for misguiding the children by selling off junk food under false illusions. The attractive covers misquoting that they are full of healthy goodness are enough to tempt the little kids. It’s very tough for a mother to explain the contrary to her kids especially when they tell her that so and so brand of noodles is now healthy and tasty too. So how do we as mothers win our battle over the junk food funda? How do we instil the right food and wrong food idea into their little minds?
Well, it’s easy! Read on further on how to educate your kids about healthy eating:
- Labels and ingredients list: Go grocery shopping with kids and teach them what is junk and what is good. If you show your kids how to read the ingredient list mentioned at the back of every food packet, they would be more alert from next time. Teach them how to read the calories, energy levels, minerals and vitamins mentioned per 100 gm serving of the pack. This would make them realize that what they are gorging on is just empty calories. Compare processed food packs with healthy packets and show them the difference between healthy and junk food.
- Use your smartphone smartly: Children these days are addicted to smartphones and tablets. So why not use it in a productive way? There are many cartoons imparting knowledge through food, apps focusing on food groups and games too. There are rhymes which mention all the vegetables and fruits along with their importance. Download such interactive modules and let your kids learn about the importance of healthy food through such applications and video games. Thus, you could impart knowledge to them in a way that keeps them engaged.
- Indulge in some gardening activity: If you get them to grow their own fruits or vegetables in your backyard or kitchen garden, not only would they be consuming their time in a wonderful way but would also be quite intrigued by the process. They would definitely love to eat the greens which they have grown themselves. You could also give them a detailed know-how about using fertilizers and about organic farming.
- Take them to some farms and orchards: Take your kids for a fun picnic at some vegetable farms and fruits orchards where they can learn how these things are grown and packed for sale. Make them pluck fresh produce and bite and munch on fruits and vegetables while you teach them the importance of these foods.
- Take them to a noodle factory if possible: Take them to a noodle factory or any processed food factory to show them how they are just made with plain flour and spices. This might make them realize that all is not what it seems.
- Show them some videos: Many educative videos are easily available on the internet. A kid I know had a sudden dislike for noodles after watching a video which showed a young boy’s intestines full of undigested noodles.
- Do not completely refrain them from junk food: While telling your kids that junk food is not good to eat every day, you must indulge in a treat once a week. This will make sure that your kids adapt to every kind of food when need be and would also make them responsible eaters.
- Take them to a food doc: Take your kids to a nutritionist who could teach them in a pro-active way about the healthy and junk food differences. Kids generally grasp things better when a third person explains them in depth. Most of them don’t take parents so seriously!
- Cooking with kids: This activity can be a lot of fun and kids thoroughly enjoy it. They can be shown the importance of ingredients while cooking and the charm of cooking makes them really relish the meals. The ideal way to sneak in the veggies in the pasta if they help in cutting and cooking. You can keep explaining the importance of each ingredient as you add it to their meal and this works fantastically with picky eaters. Read Meal hacks for a picky eater.
- Brief them about how food groups are diversified: Tell them about the importance of food groups and how every group gives us different nutrients. Teach them ways to include these in their daily diet. Make it a fun activity to count them before going to sleep. Tell them how a balanced meal comprises of all these food groups in the right quantity.
- Beans and dals
- Eggs, meat, nuts for proteins
- Milk and curds
- Grains – roti, rice, bread
- And lots of water
Many children drink very less water and are often dehydrated. Give them colourful bottles and use fresh herbs to make it more interesting and refreshing. Ensure they keep sipping on lots of water throughout the day.
Educating your kids about healthy eating is neither difficult nor time-consuming. Healthy eating is for the life & it begins in the childhood!
Akansha is the Founder and Consultant at Beyond the Weighing Scale. She is adept to speak about nutrition, health, lifestyle management and physical activity. She is a popular food columnist, a passionate foodie, a health enthusiast, an avid traveller and a happy yogi.