It is your least favourite time of day: dinnertime. The kids have turned up their nose at the rice and vegetable curry you made. Now they're negotiating for chicken nuggets and noodles. You know that nutrition is important for your growing, energetic kids. But lately, you just don't have it in you to fight these ongoing mealtime battles every day. As you reluctantly put the plate away and tear open a bag of frozen nuggets, you wonder how to get kids to eat healthy. What can you do to make nutritious meals appealing to your kids?
Getting kids to eat more nutritious food can be a never-ending battle. To make sure that children are getting all the nutrients they need to grow up big and strong, we can use some tricks to treat our children with healthy ingredients in their meals.
So, how do we get kids to eat healthy? Special educator and principle of the Bangladesh Protibondhi Foundation (BPF), Jabunnahar Begum said "Children pick up their behaviour from their parents, and their eating habits are no different.
Children's attitude to healthy food will define how they view them, so parents have to make a show of enjoying their food. Even if they don't initially pick up on it, a little reverse psychology can work and they will become curious about the food which is appreciated so much.
Begum also mentioned that kids love to get involved in whatever their parents are up to, so giving them a say in how their meals are prepared, letting them help with the cooking, letting them have a say in the menu and taking them to shop for vegetables themselves can be a great way to make them interested in healthy food.
The special educator told this reporter "I am against bargaining with children about food because it creates a negative association with food, but for busy parents trying to feed themselves and their children, it's a popular and effective tactic." She added that reinforcing positive behaviour with little rewards can be a fantastic way to get them into the habit of trying and enjoying new things.
Kamrunnahar Jharna, senior psychologist and nutrition councilor of BPF explained her experience of working with kids. She said, "Children like colourful things, and while it can require a bit of effort putting together a tasting board of colourful fruits and vegetable can be a fun activity that gets them excited about the prospect of trying new things."
Kamrunnahar says that it is okay if parents trick their children a little bit without compromising the health benefit much. Don't reserve cookie cutters for baked goods only. we can also shape fleshy vegetables and fruits like tomatoes or banana creatively or arrange various foods in patterns.
If luck doesn't come with conventional tactics, camouflaging the food and sneaking vegetables into your kids' meals is the best idea.
This method includes: baking the healthy items into a cake, blending them into a smoothie, making colourful and creative snack packs and turning the food items into dips like butter, yoghurt or any paste of vegetable. Though it will be less healthy then the actual food item, turning the items into your children's favourite popsicles and chips can increase your success rate in this camouflaging method.
Giving your child healthy snack choices will keep snack time interesting, while giving them exposure to new foods that you can integrate into dinner and lunch as well. Instead of fried chips and fast food, you can include whole-grain crackers with cheese, apple slices with peanut butter, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, grapes or lightly salted/unsalted popcorn.