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6 Worst Eating Habits of Children and Ways to Overcome Them
Healthy eating is vital for everyone, but especially for the health and well-being of children. We all understand the importance of good nutrition and exercise, but how do you feed a picky eater or encourage a child who hates sports to play outside?
It is important to learn how to keep your child healthy with the right foods and exercise. Adequate nutrition is essential to ensure your children’s overall emotional and physical health. Good eating habits help prevent chronic diseases in the future, including obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
By understanding a child’s eating habits, parents can be better prepared to evaluate the nutritional adequacy of their child’s diet and ensure that they meet the minimum nutritional requirements to maintain better health. By individually addressing each of these factors, you can ensure that your child is able to meet the minimum nutritional requirements on a daily basis.
Here are six of our kids’ worst eating habits and what you, as a parent, can do about them:
1. Skipping meals Especially breakfast
Skipping meals, especially breakfast, is one of the most common nutritional mistakes children make. Breakfast is an important meal for the whole family and even more so for the child. The point of breakfast is to give your child’s body the protein and energy it needs to start the day and see it through to lunch. Breakfast can also jump-start your child’s metabolism, which helps with weight control, mood and school performance. Give your child a strawberry milkshake or a chocolate milkshake if they get upset about drinking plain milk. Fruit juices are rich in powerful antioxidants and are an ideal accompaniment to breakfast. Cheese slices on wholemeal bread or wholemeal khakra serve as a tasty and healthy breakfast. Green mung sprouts mixed with chopped green salad and dressed with grated cheese and curd, rice kheer/porridge with milk, almonds, sesame seeds and jaggery, milk and muesli, eggs with roti or wheat bread are some nutritious options for your child. Choose the options your child is most likely to like, as variety improves everyone’s appetite
2. Excessive snacking
Snacking in children is inevitable, and parents do not have to worry about it or condemn it and forbid children from snacking. Snacking between meals is healthy as long as snack choices are appropriate, and as parents we should strive to make wise snacking options readily available for our children. The idea that food at meals should be healthy and snacks don’t have to be is wrong. The problem arises when they tend to eat too many fatty and high-calorie snacks.
The key is to encourage them to eat snacks that are rich in nutrients rather than junk foods that are low in nutrients. Healthy snacks for kids include fruits, nuts (almonds and peanuts), bhel sprouts, vegetable or chicken franks (made with whole wheat bread), dairy products like cottage cheese, cottage cheese (paneer), tofu (made with milk), baked or steamed corn , fruit juices, dosa, idlis, dhoklas etc.
3. High tolerance for junk food
Junk foods are processed and refined foods that are nutritionally empty, low in fiber and the easiest way to take in unwanted calories. One-time consumption of these foods is acceptable as long as children otherwise eat a well-balanced and healthy diet. But when it becomes an addiction, it can lead to deficiencies that paradoxically result from overfeeding. If children continue to neglect a balanced diet and at the same time eat fast food, they risk malnutrition and weakened immunity. This leads to frequent colds, allergies, asthma, irregular menstrual cycles in girls, low energy and difficulty concentrating, poor school performance, excessive hunger, constipation, mood swings, depression, irritability and the list goes on.
As parents, you should encourage them to eat properly at mealtimes so that they don’t feel hungry between meals and gravitate towards fast food.
4. Neglecting exercise
Being physically active is a key part of good health for all children. It helps them strengthen their muscles, control their weight and reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases. The key is to find activities that your child enjoys. There are many options – from jumping, kicking, catching, skating to cycling, tennis, football, dancing or even badminton. When children find an activity they enjoy, they will do a lot of it.
5. Limited intake of vegetables
We all know the health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables and the range of vital nutrients and antioxidants they provide. The only problem is that our kids refuse to put them in their mouths.
A few surefire ways to sneak vegetables into their diet are-
A. Cooking, blending and adding to soups, ketchups, pizza and pasta sauces.
b. Juicing vegetables such as carrots and beets (raw) along with fruit of your choice (orange, sweet lime)
C. Dry the cooked vegetables in a heated pan with a little oil and add them as a filling for sandwiches, chapatis and paranthas.
d. Preparation of paneer/chicken cutlet with spinach, carrot or peas as side dish.
E. Serve them tomatoes, cucumbers, carrot sticks with cream, cheese or cottage cheese.
Above all, remember that your child will be modeling the eating behaviors they see at home. If you are picky about the presence of vegetables on your plate, it is quite obvious that your child would be too. Maintain a healthy and balanced approach to eating and your child will be more likely to do the same.
6. Replacing meals with supplements-
A well-balanced diet with nutrient-dense meals and snacks can provide all the vitamins and minerals a child needs. And this is the best way to provide them. If your child is eating properly, there is no need to give him any additional food supplements. The introduction of any nutritional supplements or vitamins should only be done on the advice of a doctor and purely based on the nutritional requirements of your child and also as a dietary supplement and never as a meal replacement.
One common denominator in getting kids to eat healthier and avoid these bad eating habits is your active role in providing healthy foods. Get into the habit of making these foods more easily accessible to your child and you will soon see a change in their eating habits. Work with your child to promote a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy eating habits and regular exercise. You can both benefit from this process.
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