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How I Encouraged My Son To Eat Healthy

I am blessed with a child who does not eat any of the fast foods and has no taste for aerated drinks.  My son is 4 now and pretty much know the types of fast food kids enjoy these days. Although he loves chocolates but keeps a distance from packaged chips or other munching options available to lure kids. When we (as a family) eat out, he eats what we eat, but no Chinese or junk food at all. We like having south Indian food and idli-sambar is my son's favorite. In case there is any family function or celebration, I get no worry as he is a wonderful kid who can have Dal rice/Chole rice or Kadhi rice with absolutely no fuss. When people ask him his favorite food, he replies "Kadhi Chawal". See, this is why I feel lucky.

How I Encouraged My Son To Eat Healthy - Vibhu & Me
 But this is a result of collective efforts made by my son's daycare staff and me. He started his daycare when he was only 1.5 and he was barely eating anything that time. Slowly the daycare staff started changing his eating habits which were limited to having milk in every few hours and limited fruit intake. In next three months, he was taking the full diet that included breakfast, mid-morning fruit, lunch, 3 PM milk and evening snacks there. Daycare's diet chart had everything which was healthy and wholesome. When I realized my boy was eating well, I encouraged him even more at home. And since then his relationship with healthy eating is going utterly positive.

It sounds simple that we need to feed our kids. But when your kid is especially selective about what he/she eats, it can become a matter of  concens for mothers. These are few tips and tricks that helped me in molding my son as a healthy eater. I hope they can help others as well.
  1. "Lead by example" is I feel the most important step. You yourself need to change your eating habits if they are unhealthy. I quit frizzy drinks completely. I developed the habit of having a fruit every day. And I also started having healthy snacks in place of biscuits and other fatty/fried items.
  2. Give your kid plenty of choices if he is selective. If he does not want to have Dal rice, offer Chole rice or Curd rice. You should have healthy alternatives available always when you are developing good eating habits in your kid. 
  3. Give kids what you are having in your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In a small quantity, give him everything including lentils, curries and rice. Young kids feel like grown-ups when they get their plates arranged like elders of the family and they feel motivated. At least, my son liked this deal. 
  4. Don't categories food based on protein, carb or fat. Let kids eat what they like eating. It is okay if they don't like milk. Balance that with other dairy product like curd or buttermilk. Likewise, if they don't want to eat Dal, don't force it every day. Anything which is home cooked is good for kids
  5. Find some activities that kids can do around food items only. Talk about how food looks, smells and feels. What temperature it has, and how it sounds. Encourage them to explore it. Make it a game without the intention of having it.
  6. Let your kids make something for themselves based on their age. My son's daycare arranged a sandwich making activity one day. Kids took two bread slices, applied butter over it, placed cucumber slices, sprinkled some salt and done. My tot was 3 then, but his first self-made sandwich made him like it forever. Similarly, he learned how to make shikanji and salad. Unlike other kids of his age, he can have beet and cucumber with no denial.
  7. When you are out, carry home-cooked items so as to avoid buying ready-made or packaged items. I always carry a fruit like a banana for my boy which can be eaten anywhere. I also carry homemade snacks like Namak Para and dry fruits. 
  8. Don't always force on eating healthy. Kids love chocolates, juices, and jellies. Let them have these as well but in control. 
  9. For many kids, good looking food add to their enjoyment. So your presentation and garnishing skills can do wonders. Kids often respond well to giving foods interesting names, like monster juice or Mr potato curry. Try this trick as well.
  10.  Go easy. It varies from kid to kid how they respond to (above) efforts. So, don't stress. Believe in going slow but steady. 
I would like to say Thanks to my fellow blogger friend Shilpa Gupte for adding me in Bon Happetee blogging chain. Shilpa blogs at Metanoia (https://shilpagupte.com/). Metanoia is an ancient Greek word that means a journey of change in one’s  heart, self, mind and way of life. You can read her blog of this series here

Also, let me introduce you with Shivani Shinde who blogs at https://shivanisalil.wordpress.com/. She is next in the blogging series. Don't forget to read her blog for some great ideas on how to encourage your kids to eat healthy. 

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 I am participating in the 'Get Fit, Stay Fit' blog party with Bon Happetee
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Comments

  1. I agree with you Shipra. I always fed Mishti what was made for adults. She was never a fussy eater because of this habit. Also have meals together as family once the child is one year old. I never had my meals before or after Mishti. We always had it together. She watched me eat. Initially she would mess up the dining table but she learnt to eat on her own. I also agree that we shouldnt force the child to not eat chocolates and sweets. And some junk food once a week is fine as well. It helps to build immunity. Very relevant and practical post. Thanks for participating in the blog party.

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  2. Shipra, kudos to you and your child for such exemplary eating habits. I agree with you that habits cannot be forced upon, but learnt as a way of example. Also, as soon as child starts eating solids, we should not make separate food for him, it just spoils his eating habits. Junk food sometimes is OK too. I liked your practical pointers, especially the one that food should not be categorised into carbs, proteins and fats, if a child eats balanced ghar ka khana, everything is then taken care of.

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  3. Agree, kids need a break too. We enforcing rules which at times get into negating their choices is not right. You have pointed out so well. Thank you for sharing these practical tips to adopt.

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  4. Shipra, I completely admire your approach. It is because of the lack of any rigidness that he is such a good, nun-fussy eater, so all the credit goes to you. Forcing kids to eat a particular food and stay away from others can make the kids cranky and want those foods that are banned. Also, another thing I agree and like here is letting kids eat what the adults eat. Preparing different meals specially for the kids makes them expect the same thing even after they grow up.

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  5. Being flexible with kids and letting them explore food on their own is very important. You're really one lucky mom to have a son who eats healthy. I encourage the same for my kids and can say that with some effort I'm able to make them limit junk food to a great extent.

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  6. Leading by example is the best way. I always ask my husband to give up his love for junk so that our daughter doesn't pick it up

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  7. I so feel like you, Shipra.

    I too never cooked separate meals for my daughter after she turned 1 year old. I made her dine with us everyday & educated her about the ill effects if junk food in the long run.

    So yes, we need to lead by example & explain the perks of eating healthy to kids in the youngest stage possible.

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  8. My elder one used to love bhindi and baingan ka bharta when she was 4 as we gave her what we used to it. Its important to give your kids healthy food right from the starting. Good one Shipra.

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  9. Well, I must say that this approach right from the start will always allow kids to grow into healthy eaters. Giving funny names to the food will connect with them and once they get that acquired taste, there won't be any looking back! A very detailed post I must say. Cheers on your effort.

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