How to make healthy food choices

Are you an overwrought mother, forever worrying about the eating habits of your children?

You care about your child’s nutrition and know that it is related to growth and development but do not know how to make healthy food choices.

Children grow and change rapidly in their early years. Being prepared will make life easier and healthier. Here’s the basic diet message for you, along with some tips, to incorporate in the food that you serve to your child.

The Right Food Choices

The Right Food Choices [Illustration by Shiju George]

Relax. Your child’s eating behaviour is probably quite normal. Unnecessary fretting would not solve anything. Understanding each growth stage is a very important step in sidestepping unnatural expectations on the eating style of your child. Growth explosion of infancy cannot be sustained – most parents are unprepared for this sudden change and become upset for no reason.

Foods aren’t good or bad. Each food is different and there is place for all kind of foods. Balancing your choices is more important. Moderation, as boring as it seems, is still the key word. Just be careful as to how often and how much of everything that your child eats.

Get your facts right. Source out information on your child’s nutrition and psychology and pay attention to it carefully. Look up some good books and some informative sites. Sieve facts away from misconceptions and myths – this will prepare you to take care of your child’s needs better.

Feed the emotional needs also. In addition to physical needs, children have powerful emotional needs during this time, which play an important role in the habits they develop for a lifetime. Take care of these too.

Educate them. Make your child aware of the benefits of healthy eating and exercise. Do not impose knowledge on them. Let it be done subtly through the fun and play route. Children usually enjoy nutritional quizzes and games. Introduce these at the right age. We are what we eat and we do have a responsibility to teach our children how to feed their bodies.

Look out for pitfalls. To a point it is all right to indulge in the whims of your child but it is important that a child eats a variety of foods each day to be well nourished. So look out for these pitfalls that interfere with good nutrition – variable appetite, over indulgence in snacks, too much milk – as these lead to irregular meals in quantity and timing.

Snack smart. Snacks are a great way to refuel. Make sure your child has healthy snacks – an apple, peanut butter on a biscuit etc.

Analyse periodically. Wise parents must periodically take time to analyse what their child is eating so that they can correct nutritional deficiencies that may be present in the child.