How to teach a child a healthy diet
How to make a child eat healthy food in a world where sweets, fries, ice cream and a half of the periodic table are sold on every corner? Let's get it right.
All parents know that giving birth and raising a child is nothing compared to the task of feeding him normally.
Children are greedy for junk food and sweets. It's hard to explain to them why you need to eat oatmeal, fresh vegetables and fruits, and not pizza, hamburgers and ice cream. And why you need to drink plain water, and not sweet soda.
Psychologists warn that it is not necessary to put too much pressure on the child and create stressful situations around a healthy diet. Parents screaming at children (“eat porridge, dumbass!”) And coming up with sophisticated punishments for violating the diet are at great risk.
The child may well begin to eat broccoli in kilograms, but then hypercompensation is turned on and in his teens he can become the city champion in eating custard cakes.
Psychologists recommend the use of more subtle techniques in order to accustom a child to healthy food from an early age.
If you don’t want your child to eat junk food, don’t be tempted, says Agata Achindu, founder of the Organic Baby Food Foundation.
Practically any ready-made meal and many drinks in modern supermarkets contain sugar.
Do not bring such food and such drinks into the house, and you will not have to forbid the child to consume them, says Achindu.
This tactic is more effective than prohibitions. If there is no junk food in the refrigerator, then you don’t have to forbid your child to eat it.
Thus, even if you can’t control what a child eats outside of the house (at school, on a walk), you still exclude junk food at least partially. And at the same time and protect the psyche of the child, reducing the number of potentially conflict situations.
2 Add Intrigue
Make food interesting for the child, psychologists recommend. Surround healthy foods with a romantic halo. And the child himself will want to try them.
According to the American psychologist Laurie Day, she taught her daughter to love peas by creating a small game in which the girl had to sort out the peas, sort them by size and play with them before giving them to mom to cook them.
“Tell your child that Michael Jordan became so big because he ate a lot of peas,” says American nutritionist Julie Burns. “You will see, the child will react to this and begin to eat peas.”
“Make food interesting for the child, because children are naturally curious,” says Day.
You should not force the child to eat what he does not like. This is a dead end, psychologists say.
The child wants sweets, and he is forced to eat tasteless cereals. This is a direct way to the “compensation” mentioned above, when the child secretly stuffs a tummy with chocolates from you.
You must always give your child a choice, even if he is limited in advance by you. Let the child choose between several types of food you have previously selected. So he does not have the feeling that he is forced to eat something specific.
“The children themselves must choose what they eat,” says Ava Parnass, an American child psychologist, “Do not give them a reason for food riot.”
4 Do not force to eat up
Remember how your grandmother told you in childhood: “You will not get up from the table until you reach”?
So, she was wrong.
Modern child psychologists recommend pouring more food into a child than he should eat. And calmly relate to the fact that he did not finish, emphasizes nutritionist Pam Moore.
The main thing is to make sure that the child does not have the opportunity, in half an hour to go to the refrigerator and “catch up” with chocolate. If the child does not want to eat up his dinner, there is no need to force him, you just need to explain that next time he will eat only at breakfast.
If you do everything right, the child will get used to eating at the table and not running after “snacks”.
5 Add creativity
Children are naive and gullible. And sometimes it’s not at all a sin to take advantage of this. Well intentioned, of course.
American food blogger Jennifer Rose cites her children as an example, whom she managed to translate almost completely to healthy eating thanks to creative culinary ideas.
Do not force children to abandon their favorite pastries, you just need to replace the harmful ingredients with useful ones. For example, you can refuse sunflower oil in favor of olive. Instead of sugar, add berries to baking.
If children love bread, you need to buy them fresh whole grains, not an ordinary store. If children like juices, they should be made fresh and don’t buy juice in bags that are high in sugar. Fresh fruit can be added to yogurt or porridge, rather than store jam.
At the same time, new dishes should not be introduced radically, but gradually, says nutritionist Julie Burns. Give your child the opportunity to try the dish, get used to it.
Better yet, get the kids involved in the cooking process. Let them help wash vegetables for salad, stir the dough, peel the fruits. This will make food closer to them, Burns says.
How to persuade a child to eat properly
In cases with children, stories about how vitamins and minerals from a particular product will benefit the body are useless. It is important for the child that the food is tasty and he likes:
- It is necessary to give the child the right to choose, while offering a varied menu.
- Try to accustom children to healthy nutrition from the very first feeding.
- Make a habit of shopping together and do it in the form of a game, moving from one department to another (of course, bypassing pastry shops, because there will be a place for a child to roam).
- Encourage your baby for eating the healthy meal you’ve offered.
- Show by example that healthy food can be delicious. To start with the whole family to arrange days of healthy food.
- You can make an interesting composition of some products, prepare a colorful dish (broccoli can be used under the guise of flowers, put carrots in the form of the sun, and spinach in the form of a lawn). Before eating, invite your child to guess what these foods look like.
- Often arrange outings for picnics, taking steamed vegetables and fruits for a snack. The child, having walked up, quickly gets hungry, and for lack of other options he will eat what is offered to him.
- In order to wean from the intake of carbonated drinks and to accustom to the regular drinking of pure water, you can add natural food colors to the drinking water (juice of beets, carrots, red cabbage, spinach). And call this drink for example, "Superhero Drink."
- It is difficult to wean any child from sweets, so instead of the usual chocolates, you can make homemade healthy sweets based on honey, dried apricots, raisins, nuts and coconut.
- In order to teach a baby to eat oatmeal in the morning, you need to make it as attractive as possible by adding pieces of fresh fruit or candied fruit to it, cutting them out in the shape of stars or hearts.
- As a light snack at school, in a backpack children can put slices of dried fruit, nuts or dried fruits. So they will have less temptation to buy harmful crackers and chips.
Do not despair if the child does not immediately begin to eat spinach and broccoli for both cheeks. As in any business, you need to be patient and try all of the above methods. You can’t yell at the child at the table or not be allowed to leave the table until he eats everything, you can set him against himself and he will not eat the proposed food for evil.
But, if none of the methods leads to a positive result, you should contact a child psychologist. Perhaps the reason lies much deeper than in ordinary moods.
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Sometimes, at certain stages of growth and development, the child requires the predominance of one type of food and the restriction of another - during the periods of building and strengthening the skeleton, when the baby begins to walk, babies often subconsciously and intuitively prefer milk, as these products are rich in calcium deficiency. But meat and cereals, for example, temporarily fall into disgrace.
This condition usually goes away with the accumulation of necessary substances and does not require panic from parents and force-feeding. Even an adult body often gives signals about what it needs and does not need, saying: “I want meat” or “put out cabbage”. The child also has the right to listen to his body's signals and follow them.
Set an example
Of course, all parents know that proper nutrition it is important for children, and at breakfast they offer him bored semolina, while the nose itself is turned back from one of its kind, gobbling up sausages with fried eggs. Just think for yourself, would you eat porridge instead of a child?
Do you want him to eat healthy foods - show him an example and teach the whole family to eat properly and healthy, eat all the same food for breakfast. Show your imagination: appetite kills monotony and dullness, boredom. If the cutlet is in the form of a fish with eyes from carrots, the temptation to eat it will be great, and the notorious semolina can be made incredibly tasty, turning it into a wonderful and airy pudding.
Let your baby go hungry
Parents often, out of good intentions, try to feed the baby more satisfying and denser, without thinking that his needs change with age, and he is no longer a six-month-old baby who needs to eat strictly according to the schedule in 2.5-3 hours.
Children with age switch to sharper meals, they need to “whet their appetite” and use up previous calories, since their body is not growing so actively, and not so much energy is spent on growth. Therefore, remember that hunger is the best incentive for fussy, let the child walk and get hungry.
When the child wants to eat, offer what you have planned for breakfast or lunch, and if the dish is rejected, do not follow the path and do not think that your child will die of hunger. Block access to all snacks and send for half an hour to "tempt your appetite" - usually the most stubborn eat unloved cutlets from the second or third time. The most difficult thing in this situation is to overpower yourself and understand that feeding should not be anything, if only in time.
10 Nutrition Tips
- Parental control. Who goes to the store and buys products? You yourself? Then all the blame for malnutrition of children can be blamed. No child will go hungry. Children will eat everything they find in lockers and a refrigerator. So if you have little wholesome food in your kitchen, then you need to review your standard shopping list.
- Let the baby choose. On the one hand, it may seem too unusual and even wrong to ask a child what and how much he wants. But if you stick to the daily routine with a fixed time for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, cook deliciously and variably, then the child will choose from what is. It’s not difficult to have a pack or two of whole-grain pasta and, say, rice in the kitchen. Offer to choose a side dish from these two options, and it will be useful in any case.
- Do not force to eat up. Let the child decide for himself whether he is full or not. Only in this way can a person learn to understand himself and avoid overeating.
- Begin to cultivate the right eating habits of your baby from birth. Food addictions are laid at an early age, literally from the moment of the introduction of the first complementary foods. Therefore, do not insist on any “such useful cauliflower” if you do not want your child to be able to look at her for the rest of her life. If the baby does not want mashed squash today, do not force-feed. Offer it in a week or two, and perhaps your child will try it.
- Diversify the children's menu. In fact, children love more than just cookies and pasta with sausages. Offer them something completely new at home or let yourself choose in a cafe. You will be surprised how much children love to experiment.
- Count liquid calories. Carbonated sugary drinks contain a huge amount of calories that do not carry nutritional value. Gradually replace soda with water, milk and stewed fruit. So you not only satisfy the thirst of the child, but also provide him with the necessary vitamins and minerals.
- Do not overestimate the dessert. If each meal ends with a “delicious delicious dessert that I spent half a day”, then the child begins to perceive the third dish as something special. And this incredible one begins to want more and more, and ordinary food, especially vegetables, - less and less. Do not focus on any food, and then the child will not beg for sweets with or without.
- Do not try to express your love for the child through food. It’s much better to just say once again how you love him. If you use food (for example, some special dishes) as an encouragement or an occasion to delight a child, then most likely he will develop a habit of seizing stress and celebrating any events with feasts with age.
- Set an example. Children, especially small ones, repeat everything after adults. It is difficult to teach a child to eat broccoli and brown rice if you yourself prefer pies and sandwiches. Change the diet of the whole family, gradually replacing harmful or unhealthy dishes with tasty and nutritious ones. Use kitchen appliances such as a crock-pot, hot grill, and a double boiler. They allow you to cook food without adding or with a minimal amount of oil, very few vitamins are lost during the processing, and the dishes are very tasty. If the whole family eats the right and tasty food, then the child will be.
- Limit time spent watching TV and computer. Using this method, you will be able to reduce the number and volume of snacks, which are also often not always useful. And it’s better not just to forbid the child to watch cartoons, but to go for a walk with him or play outdoor games. Kids love it a lot more.
How to teach water and milk
Healthy food undoubtedly improves the child’s mood and well-being.
For children of any age, the best way to quench your thirst is to drink a glass of plain water or milk. And not only because there are absolutely no calories in water, and there is a lot of calcium in milk, but because it is possible to form the right habit to use milk and water, and not soda, to quench your thirst.
Here, for example, the body's need for calcium for children of different ages:
- Babies from 1 year to 3 years - 700 mg of calcium daily (480 ml of milk).
- Children from 3 to 8 years old - 1000 mg (600 ml of milk).
- Children and adolescents over 9 years old - 1300 mg (720 ml of milk).
It is better to choose skim milk or milk with a low fat content, so you trim extra calories.
If your child does not like milk, then try making a milkshake by adding some berries or fruits, such as strawberries or bananas. This smoothie is easy to make, it is tasty and sweet enough, and it also contains additional vitamins and minerals.
If children drink a lot of soda, sports drinks, juices and juice drinks, then they get not only a huge amount of sugar and empty calories, but also begin to consume less milk and other dairy products (for example, kefir), depriving themselves of the necessary calcium. In addition, excess calories can lead to obesity and serious health problems (diabetes, hypertension).
The calorie and sugar content of various drinks
- Water (1 cup) - 0 calories and 0 g of sugar.
- Milk with a low percentage of fat (1 cup) - 100 calories and 11 g of sugar.
- Freshly squeezed orange juice (1 cup) - 110 calories and 22 g of sugar.
- A juice drink containing 10% juice (1 cup) - 150 calories and 38 g of sugar.
- Carbonated sweet drink (1 cup) - 100 calories and 27 g of sugar.
Juice consumption rates for children of different ages:
- Up to 6 months - juice is not administered. The main and only food of the child should be breast milk or a mixture, as well as simple boiled water, if necessary.
- 6-12 months - no more than 120 ml of juice, can be diluted with water.
- 1-6 years - up to 200 ml per day.
- 7-18 years - up to 350 ml per day.
Limit the amount of carbonated drinks.
A variety of soft drinks and colas are often bought by children. But not always parents remember that soda contains a lot of sugar and acid, which can lead to caries and obesity. Moreover, such drinks often contain caffeine, and its children definitely do not need to consume. It is believed that the sooner the child has tried soda, the more difficult it is to wean him from her and the more he will drink it in the future.
It is worth noting that it is not necessary to categorically ban a child lemonade. If this is a child under 7 years old, then just try not to give it a try, if it is an older child, then explain why you do not like soda, how harmful it is and offer a tasty choice: iced tea with honey and lemon, milkshake or homemade compote.
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