Get your child to start eating healthy food during vacation 31 May 2022 Jayshree Guha Thakurta Vice-principal of Vega Schools
Holidays are always a bonding time for the family. Children and parents often look forward to spending those memorable holidays with uninterrupted fun, away from the daily routine of school and work.
Here comes a catch - vacations break the school routine. They pose a risk of unsettling the children and breaking a routine which takes a long time to set in. It sometimes gets tough for the kids to get back to the old routine of good food and school.
Especially for all working parents, remember your child is on vacation and not you. You do not want to take leave to deal with his/her health issues. The secret mantra here is ‘Freedom within structure’. Having a routine is more important than following an old routine.
The mealtime is a mealtime
You will often notice that when on a holiday kids wake up earlier than we would want them to. This is because of excitement, change of plan and the relaxed company of parents. Do plan to have breakfast together . Make it exciting with dishes that your child looks forward to eating. Try and finish dinner around nine.Use late evenings for bonding and for possibly exploring new recipes for the next day.
Kids in Nursery school, Kindergarten and in smaller grades like newness and love exploring . Explore the cuisine of the places you travel and look for healthy combinations of ingredients . Discuss how attractive the serving is and how creatively the veggies have been included.
Stock healthy food
When at home on vacation, all of us feel like munching, having healthy options available within your child's reach. The principle of proximity applies to children in the same way it applies to us - we are more likely to eat what is visible and within reach. It is equally important to have a conversation with your kid about where, what and why of the snacks at home. The conversation should always be centered around the child and her needs.
Vacation is the best time to explore cooking together. It fosters bonding between you and your child and encourages creativity .Kids are quick to give ideas to make healthy food look interesting. Innovate and customize the recipe to your child's taste and watch the fun!
Present the food well
Kids love it when the food is presented in an interesting manner. A simple bread, butter, egg or a pancake can be made intresting . Serve like a chef and see the excitement in your child to finish the food.
Next time you take out your child for dinner, opt for grilled veggies or chicken or fish, enjoy the taste and talk about how good it is in cutting down those extra calories. Try it at home too.
Make fresh fruit juice, have fun pouring the coconut water into a glass (balancing the heavy coconut over the glass) or raw mango drink and enjoy together. There are a lot of curd based drinks which are just amazing for keeping the body hydrated. This will keep your child hydrated and will reduce the urge to have aerated drinks if you’ve kept them for guests.
No one likes to be forced to do something, especially your little one who is learning to exercise independence.This holds true for the food table too. Though the choice between fruits and salads or different types of breakfast cereals is a ‘Tip and Trick’. It gives autonomy they seek. You secretly remain in control of their nutrition. A new dish sometimes is a good idea.
Involve the kids in planning
Getting little kids involved and having a say, this gives them a sense of ownership of the food on the table . They accept and would eat even if it is not the best choice only because they were a part of decision making.
Let them serve their own plate
Give guidelines about a serving of veggies with an option, a serving of protein with an option and so on. When kids are given the freedom, they feel like grown ups and will often make choices which are like yours.
Set an example and remove the stress on eating healthy
If kids see parents experimenting with food and enjoying it, sooner than later, they will enjoy it too. Always remember never call a food ‘healthy’ .Food is a basic source of connection with love and bonding. Children are not concerned by the health factor in food. But if they sense stress around compulsion for having healthy food to remain fit , they may not build the right connection.
The best schools in Gurgaon work around developing healthy food habits in a subtle way in school and parents can compliment that effort at home.We hope you will find some of these strategies useful and will be able to put them to use at summer time. The gift of good health is a gift for a lifetime!
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