It is lunch time and all Michel can ask for is chips and soda. This affects Eunice Ajok, the mother, who has to prepare two meals, one for the child and the other for the rest of the family.
Besides that, she feels it’s extremely unhealthy to feed her child on junk. Just like Ajok, many parents find it hard to get their children off quick bites to eating healthy foods like vegetables, fruits and whole meals.
Here are different ways to interest your child into eating healthy.
Be a role Model
Practice what you preach! Hafusa, mother of six, notes that children take their parents as role models and will always try to do what their parents do.
If you eat healthy, your child will grow up doing the same. If you want your child to drink water, do it often. If you want them to eat vegetables or yams, prepare them and eat along. With this, your child will get interested in eating healthy food.
“You can also use the people they like most be it friends or energetic people around you. Tell them that those people are the way they are because they don’t eat junk,” she says.
Prepare the food
In most cases, children will crave for what they constantly see and eat. Prepare the food you want your child to eat and leave them with no option but to eat what is available.
With time they will get used to it. This can work best if done at an early age.
Talk good about the foods
Evelyn Nankya, a nutritionist, says, “tell your child the benefits of eating such kinds of foods, for example it will help you become strong and healthy.
With this, the child will always try to eat these foods even on their own. Learn fun ways to prepare or serve these foods that can make the child want them. For example buy nice plates, praise the good about the food before giving it to the child and much more.”
If it’s a fruit, find creative ways to cut it in the different shapes they study at school like circles, triangles and more.
Provide the two meals
Present the child with both junk and the healthy food.
Nankya argues that there is no way a parent can avoid junk food but to rather balance intake of the two foods. She notes that a parent should provide the two foods but only give a junk after the child has eaten the nutritious one.
Ajok advises that you should introduce new foods slowly since a child can’t like a certain type of food overnight. Provide that food alongside a junk bite since some children will refuse to eat completely.
Get them involved
Task your child to find out some of the healthy foods he or she knows. Then prepare the food according to their findings and fully involve them in the cooking process.
Nankya notes that the child will feel responsible and have a good reason to eat the food.
Don’t beat them
Whereas Ajok argues that it’s sometimes okay to raise a hand if the child behaves stubborn, Annet Nakazibwe, a counselor and teacher, notes that it’s psychological for human beings to defy something forced onto them.
She argues that talking to the child and telling them the different health benefits could yield positive results.
Give them company
Some children love eating in groups so you can consider eating along or alternatively, you can get their peers and ask them to eat together. This will interest your child into loving these foods with time.