It’s not wrong to compare a kid to a talking parrot. The only difference is that while a talking parrot only repeats what you speak, your child talks, acts and mimics whatever he/she sees around through his/her camera lens-eyes. Maybe, the energy bee is the walking CCTV who monitors you, digests all the information and exhibits his/her knowledge as and when time demands. So, it is literally necessary to create a serene environment that benefits the child as well as the adult in all ways including mental, physical, emotional and overall well-being. Thus, with much guidance, perseverance and channelization from parents, kids can be taught healthy eating and physical activity habits that can last a lifetime.
Kids Bear the Brunt of the Situation
I feel sorry for this generation kids as they are expected to eat healthy, do physical active and restrict portion sizes to stay well within their healthy body weight. All this help direct a kid’s mind and body towards good health but the only problem these days is that it has become a rigorous task rather than an enjoyable affair. Staying fit is expected from kids of any generation and the variation comes only with the methods followed and the instruction fed into a child’s brain.
The present-day children face restrictions in ghee, butter, cheese, oily foods and sugary foods intake but kids of the previous generations enjoyed the liberty of eating dollops of ghee, fried papads and all sorts of sweet. So, where does the difference lie? Decades back, there was no availability of burgers and pizzas, numerous sweet shops as today and almost every food item from A-Z was homemade. Also, adulteration of food was minimal or almost non-existent. Coming to physical activity, kids enjoyed climbing trees, playing hopscotch or swimming in the rivers which fulfilled their activity requirements even without their knowledge. The absence of all these puts kids these days to suffer from strict ring masters (parents) who are forced to monitor their kids’ every meal and activity. Call it a curse or burden, this is the real scenario existing these days.
Start Young, Stay Young
When kids are active and eat right they face minimal chances of becoming obese, one of the top health problems in today’s world. Children who enter obesity during childhood or adolescence are likelier to grow into obese/overweight adults. When a person starts eating healthy and staying active from an early age, he/she tends to continue these habits in the long run. This is applicable for adults who can self-regulate their needs, but children require supervision and encouragement to make healthy choices. Parents can stimulate healthy or unhealthy habits by the kind of environment they set. This is because:
Parents gained weight in due course of time but even after 10 years, more than 40% of kids who worked with their parents had maintained at least 20% of weight loss. Also, even if parents fall back to their previous eating styles and activity, kids are mostly likelier to stick with their healthy lifestyles.
Start your infants and preschoolers on a variety of healthy foods such as fruits, veggies, whole grains and dairy to familiarize them with these foods and also to help them develop a liking for them. Even studies insist starting your kids on a healthy eating pattern right from a young age-‘the earlier, the better’ is their suggestion.
Fight On, Don’t Give Up
There is no denial that young children are not open to eating fruits and vegetables and some parents take hasty decisions in avoiding them when the child avoids it once or twice. Exposing children to these foods often, maybe anywhere between 9 and 15 times will help them develop a liking towards the food. It might be that your child does not show a positive response to the food immediately but still keep trying. You can ask your child to taste just a bite of the new food offered but see to that you don’t create a scene or inflict stress upon the kid to eat it.
Kids prefer to try out new foods when they are seated in a relaxed and pleasant environment. One of the biggest concerns now is portion control. Kids below three years of age stop eating once they feel full but older children are forced to clear their plateful of food, hungry or not! Parents must avoid this clean plate strategy (For more details, visit www.firsteatright.com) otherwise be prepared for the negative consequences following it. Serve small portions of foods and give kids the space to ask for another serving if they still feel hungry. Guide your kids to realize their fullness or hunger feeling without disturbing peace. When your child asks for another serving, it is better to comment something like ‘Oh dear, you are extremely hungry tonight isn’t it’ rather than saying, ‘No beta, that’s more than enough food you have consumed’ When they avoid finishing food on their plate it is never wrong to comment, ‘Dear, you must feel full I guess.’ All these help a child understand hunger and fullness.
Every small change in the house can have huge effects on the physical activity. For instance, you can put the skipping rope somewhere in a place which is accessed by your kid often or enroll your child for swimming, squash or basketball classes which promote healthy activity alongside being a hobby. Try playing hopscotch, bicycling or racing against your kid thereby convey to your little one that you are game for ample physical activity anytime.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.