As a parent, I’m guilty of allowing my child to have set tastes and preferences when it comes to food and eating habits. For years I have allowed my little boy to eat three meals a day without a trace of daal or rice. Yes, he survives on roti–sabzi–paratha and will not touch rice and daal. I have been bargaining with him to start eating these from his next birthday. But as they say, tomorrow never comes!
Whatever said and done, it’s important to teach your child about different foods and health benefits. As long as your child intakes different nutrients—mainly proteins, carbohydrates, water, good fats, vitamins, and minerals—and is able to grow well, perform and be active, there’s not much to worry, say experts.
Here, we discuss five common myths and facts about healthy eating habits amongst kids. Read on.
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Myth 1: Children eat what they like
Fact: Children develop taste according to what is served and by mirroring parents’ behaviour and give into peer pressure.
If you don’t want your child to eat junk food all the time, limit your visits to the burger and pizza outlets. Follow a set routine and time for having meals, and let chips, cola, burger, pizza, etc. be an occasional treat. Set home rules for meal time, eat as a family, and let your child pick up good table manners. When my child insists he wants chips or chocolates seeing other kids, I praise him for his good eating habits and we decide a day/time to treat his taste buds with the same!
Myth 2: It’s not healthy for kids to eat too much red meat and eggs
Fact: Adults may need to cut back on eating red meat and eggs, but kids generally don’t.
Poultry and meat is excellent source of protein with plenty of iron and zinc and other essential nutrients for growing children. While it is healthy to consume eggs and meat, you may omit egg yolk, fried chicken, or oily gravies.
Myth 3: Kids love to eat the same foods over and over
Fact: Kids do enjoy eating some foods repeatedly but they also crave variety and new things.
My child loves to have Chinese food from the same restaurant over and over again. However, I know for sure that if today, it’s Chinese food; tomorrow it’ll be dosa, and next he’ll be hooked to having aloo parathas every morning! Till I introduce some exciting pancakes or pasta next. Remember, kids have a strong instinct to experience new flavours and go overboard if they like something at the first attempt.
Myth 4: When a child rejects a food, there’s no point in serving it again
Fact: Research shows that a toddler may have to try a new food 15 times before she’ll eat more than a spoonful. Sigh!
At times, children may mirror their parents’ behaviour—if a parent is a fussy eater or just declare his/her love or hatred for something. It’s good to offer new foods as many times as you can and be prepared to take “No” for an answer.
A trick I follow is to engage my boy in some activity or talk while I introduce a new food item. If he says no, I volunteer to feed him, and most of the time, it works! There have been times when he has surprised me by saying, “Not bad,” before he can pick up how and how much to eat in each bite.
Myth 5: Add sugar to new foods you want your kids to eat, kids like all things sweet
Fact: Too much sugar is bad, your child can enjoy natural flavours more than you do.
Resist the need to add honey or sugar to everything you want your kid to eat. When you are introducing new things to eat to your child, try a different food one every three-four days, so it becomes a family norm. Caution: watch out for any food allergies when you try anything new or uncommon.
A word of advice for parents” children are good at regulating their food intake, so let your child eat something every two-three hours.
Limit quantities of highly caloric foods like macaroni and cheese and encourage extra helpings of fruits and vegetables that make him/her feeling satisfied and energetic.
A healthy diet supplies a child with all essential nutrients, but studies reveal that more than 50% of children fall short on at least one vitamin or mineral. So check with your doctor about giving your child a multivitamin/multimineral supplement.
Happy healthy eating!
Have you come across a myth or two? We would love to hear from you, share your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section!
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