Childhood obesity is a major concern in America today. A recent study by Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science reports that the way caregivers feed their kids could be just as important as what they give them to eat. This lays emphasis on having a positive approach towards feeding kids. But can you really leave healthy eating up to kids?
Most kids will cringe at the sight of leafy greens or plain ol’ milk. However, as a parent, you need not be too strict and imposing. Instead, play smart, give your kids the perception that they are in control. This can help them establish a healthy relationship with food.
Ihuoma Eneli, MD, medical director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, who is also a mother, shares a few key tips.
- Introduce new foods to your kids but with a twist. It is likely that a few times they will spit out veggies but giving it a yummy twist with their favorite sauce or some extra cheese, should fix the deal. Eneli asks to “keep finding ways to introduce healthy food with low-cal dips, butter, or ranch dressing.”
- Always serve at least one thing you know your child will eat. That way, if they choose not to eat anything else, you know they are not starving. “Once your child realizes that feeding time isn’t going to be a battle of wills, they will eventually start eating what you give them. Stay positive and firm, and remember that children have the ability to learn healthy eating if you will just let them” Eneli adds.
- Serve smaller portions of everything. This way, they’ll ask for seconds on what they want to eat. “The child is learning about feeling full while having his/her opinion respected, and that grows trust—a very positive emotion to have in relation to feeding.”
- Make a small dessert part of the regular meal rather than a reward for eating everything. “Take the crown off the cookie, and make it less sparkly. Yes, your child will eat the dessert first for a week or so, but then it will lose its luster.”
- Let your child choose snack time. After lunch, ask your kid what time they want to have a snack. “If they get hungry, you can remind them that they picked snack time so they feel in control,” suggests Eneli.