6 Tips To Develop Healthy Eating Habits In Children
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The act of sharing meal times together as a familial unit brings about a sense of community and belonging amongst those younger than us. Often times, we forget that food is a medium that bypasses class, caste and most other societal limitations that we set for ourselves. When children witness adults engaging in positive eating practices, it allows them to explore and understand the culture they come from, better. Influence – good or bad, in this case, can play a very crucial factor in determining their relationship with food as they grow up. Here are six ways to help them understand and establish a meaningful relationship with food:

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  • To state the obvious, avoiding packaged and processed food, even if they are low on sugar or carbohydrates, is one of the best ways to deviate towards making healthy choices. Since most processed foods are also packed with preserving agents and chemical stabilizers, skipping the junk food aisle in the supermarket is for the best.
  • Swap ketchups or sugary jams with homemade chutneys and murrabbas, if the need to eat an accompaniment with your meals arises. The additives and sugar in ketchup or synthetic fruit jams make it tougher for the child to open themselves up to newer tastes and flavours, without diluting the integrity of their meal and making the food taste one-dimensional.
  • Taking children on planned farm visits or field trips allows them to connect on a personal level with nature and the food system that provides for them. Making visits to cattle sheds, paddy fields or fruit orchards instead of waterparks or the video game arcade, enable children to be present and help them develop a deeper understanding of their environment at large.
  • With food being a point of communal exchanges, eating at least one meal a day with the entire family, away from electronic devices, is an effective tool in displaying by example on how to make healthy choices. Additionally, involving children in picking and cleaning herbs, peeling potatoes and simple kitchen tasks where they can imbibe a skill, allows them to learn self-sufficiency and independence.
  • Eating one fruit or vegetable that is seasonal and out of what your homemade staples are, offers a wider exposure to the fascinating world of hyperlocal produce and its relationship with nourishment. This small but significant act allows for children to expand their knowledge about a specific region that is well within their reach, instead of making them averse to the idea of eating traditional, local food.
  • As much as healthy eating habits have a direct relationship with physical well-being, shifting the perception of offering food as a bribe or depriving kids off it when they overstep boundaries, conditions their mentality to view food as a punishment or reward for bad and good behaviour, respectively. Moving beyond the concerns of parenthood where getting children to eat their meals overpowers the psychological effects of this reward-repent system.