Feeding picky eaters

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Feeding picky eaters

Good nutrition between the ages of two and 10 years contributes to the physical, emotional, social and mental growth and development of the child.

It improves cognitive development and social behaviour and performance of the child. A well-nourished child exhibits certain characteristics, which are evident in his/her appearance like size, stature, sense of wellbeing, vitality etc. It is very important to focus on balanced diets for kids. A balanced diet contains different types of foods in such quantities and proportions, that the requirement of major and minor nutrients is met.

Encourage healthy eating and keep a track of foods eaten outside. Avoiding junk foods, low-fibre food, bottled drinks, chocolates, sweets, candies and fried foods, thereby preventing nutritional obesity, constipation, anaemia and other diseases. Encourage intake of liberal amounts of water and maintain a food guide. These are some habits that will yield long-term benefits.

Be a role model

Children learn by example, so let them see that you enjoy eating healthy meals. They are more likely to eat foods that they have seen you eat. Do not bring in your food dislikes in front of the kids. Have meals together whenever possible — at least once a day. Here are few other pointers you could follow:

Give children options by encouraging them to select their own food within the limited choice.

Make time to sit down and eat with your child. Switch off the television.
Involve your child in getting the dinner ready.
Have everything on the table to avoid going to the kitchen often.
Place food in the center of the table so the child can serve himself or herself. By age of four, every child can judge how much they can eat.
Set a time limit. If they refuse to eat the meal within, say, 30 minutes, remove it without fuss and don’t offer any other food until next mealtime.
Don’t discuss eating behaviour or family issues at mealtimes. Keep conversation light and fun.

Make time for breakfast

Always make time for your child to eat the first meal of the day. A child who eats a well-balanced breakfast is ready for an action-packed day ahead.

Play with food

Encourage fussy eaters to eat good food by presenting imaginatively:
Offer raw vegetables instead of cooked ones and finger foods like carrots, cucumber and bread sticks.
Corn on a cob or corn tossed in lime, salt/spices, is also a good option.
Potatoes as french fries, or potato rosti are liked by most kids.
Slip in vegetables in parathas/rotis by adding grated carrot, chopped greens to wheat flour while kneading the dough.
Make fruit lollies with fruit juices/ pureed fruits.
Offer fruits instead of sweets.
Feed them more fruits through smoothies and milkshakes.
Make mini sandwiches made with peanut butter, cheese, cucumber, tomato and paneer.
Make snacks like well-boiled groundnuts/pulses tossed with salt and lime.
Build their appetite

Ensure that kids have taken in plenty of fresh air and exercise; they do wonders for the appetite. It’s amazing how less fussy children become if they are really hungry.

Get them in the kitchen

Encourage your children to help with shopping and preparing a meal. They will be more likely to eat the meal when they are involved in making it. Rope in the kids to make bhel with puffed rice, grated carrots, tomatoes and tangy tamarind chutney. Give them a bowl to mix it up and serve themselves in those cone-shaped papers. Watch them enjoy making it and relishing it as well. Try it over the weekends or holidays.

It is not too hard to make kids eat healthy, if you find such small ways to
incorporate healthy ingredients. Implement these small hacks; they’re fun and nutritious.


Make healthy choices for kids with fun foods

Cereal pulse mix porridge
Cornflakes with bananas & honey/sugar/jaggery
Oats porridge
Toast with marmalade or jam
Parathas stuffed with vegetables/chutney
Vegetable/paneer/egg roll
Vegetable idli
Multigrain pasta with cheese
Eggs — Boiled/poached/scrambled
Khichdi with raitha
Bisibelebath
Vegetable fried rice with salad
Vegetable pulav with raita
Curd rice
Whole milk
Flavoured milk
Milkshake with fruits & nuts
Tender coconut water
Curd whipped as lassi
Vegetable soups

(The author is consultant — nutrition and dietetics, Rainbow Hospitals,Bengaluru)

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