Eating is a crucial part of our life and hence it is the duty of parents to make sure that their children are trained to make healthy choices even in their absence. The more a child keeps aging, the more number of meals and snacks he/she eats out. Growing up means more independence to kids today with outings involving friends, restaurant parties and sleepovers. Peer pressure, a commonly used word nowadays, can overpower a child’s personal food preferences in many situations.
A Child’s First School-Home
Home is the first foundation for any habit-good or bad. Habits formed at home will definitely reflect your outside preferences. Though peer pressure may influence your kid’s eating pattern, eating habits molded by family members are a powerful force as well. What the parents preach is mirrored in their child’s choices. But this should not lead to dictatorship or over strict behavior from parents as this might result in unhealthy obsessions or cravings with food or a distorted body image, caution highly eminent dietitians.
Learn to make Healthy Choices while Eating Out
You cannot give instructions on portion sizes while eating out. Huge portion sizes are a big threat to health-minded kids. Also, parents advise kids to complete whatever is on their plate without wasting a morsel. Such parents are unaware of the disadvantages of the ‘clean plate club’ jotted down at www.firsteatright.com. But make your kid understand that he/she need not follow this policy when eating out and insist that it is not mandatory to wipe their plate clean once they realize that they feel full. Ensure that you child is smart enough to choose healthy options when going out.
Set High Self-esteem to Chip off Eagle-eyed Peers
Though we make fun of overweight kids, we don’t mind asking them questions like “Are you on a diet?” when kids choose plain water over a can of soft drink, thereby making them feel awkward. But these statements will never deter the actions of a kid with a strong sense of self-esteem. Other kids might want to express their feelings about unhealthy comments or teases from friends or family members. A small gesture from your end to show your openness to remarks is enough for the kid to discuss these issues with you. Don’t forget to appreciate them for their good decisions.
Learn Something New from Every Situation
Every function, school program or friends outing is an opportunity for your child to practice balanced eating. With so many choices, it is not a sin to indulge in “sometimes” food along with your healthy food choices. Form a group with other parents of your child’s same age and discuss about promoting healthy food habits among your children in attractive and simple ways.
One cannot predict every situation beforehand. But you can anticipate common scenarios that may put your child under pressure and prepare your child to handle these situations. This becomes the stepping stone for your child to handle any situation with ease in your absence, setting the strong foundation for a successful future with healthy eating habits!
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.