Being a mother of a toddler, a school-age child or an adolescent; which thought haunts you and what keeps you worried all the time? It is your child’s eating habits!!! You might be going over the board thinking about how to create a balance between taste and nutrition.
Remember your childhood days when you loathed having greens and other strongly flavoured foods but you do like them now. Why?? Simply put, our taste buds gradually with increasing age decrease in their affectivity and we start adjusting to the strong flavours. So you have a consolation there that one day your child might start taking those greens with pleasure. Till then so as to make your child eat nutritious food following tips might come handy.
Go one by one: when introducing new foods in the diet. This facilitates to observe the child’s response to food. It also helps in finding out if the child is allergic to any particular food.
Change the form: If a particular food is disliked try to change the form of that particular food and see the response. E.g. if spinach is not appreciated as saag try making it as palak paneer or kofta instead.
Be Encouraging: Our food choices generally rub on our children thus we should try not to show dislike or displeasure for any particular food. They should be encouraged to try most foods eaten by the family.
Avoid Monotony: Variety in choice of foods and innovation in the recipes is very important to avoid monotony. Even the slightest change like a change in the shape of chapatti might make your child interested in the meal.
Try the trick of camouflaging: Mostly children are finicky in eating fruits and vegetables. So add these foods in invisible mode. For example, vegetables introduced as stuffing or topping or chopped too fine to get noticed, fruits added in milk, pureed and added to certain desserts (custards).
Milk can be substituted If your child refuses to drink milk, calcium can be obtained from curd, cheese, yoghurt or from sardines and other fish that contain fine bones which can be eaten. For vegetarians til or sesame, ragi can be added to the diet. These not only have a high amount of calcium but are also good sources of protein.
Pack a wholesome lunch: The packed lunch should include carbohydrates (rice/chapati/parantha), proteins (pulses, paneer, soy nuggets, egg / non-veg) and vitamins-minerals (vegetables and fruits). Few examples of packed lunches: Vegetable and nutri-nuggets Pulao & fruit; Methi/palak parantha with fruit; Dal parantha & fruit; Paneer sandwich & fruit, etc.
You need to be patient in dealing with the mixed reactions you are likely to receive from your picky/finicky children while eating. Your patience is worth your child’s health.