How do I get my child/children to eat healthier?
This is one of the most common questions that parents ask. If not, it should be on your mind.
Student life is the busiest part of a child’s existence, and unfortunately the last thing on a child’s mind is healthy eating! Children hardly pay attention to the food they eat or how healthy it is, and usually they just eat what comes their way without paying attention to the ingredients and impact on their health.
Unhealthy food leads to problems such as obesity, hormonal problems, vitamin deficiencies, and lowered immunity. This brings to mind the old adage – ‘a healthy mind exists in a healthy body’. When physical health is affected, the child’s concentration and performance in school is also affected. These are dire consequences which loom large in front of our children. Luckily, they can be prevented through healthy eating.
Tips for Students to Practise Healthy Eating
Here are some healthy food tips to make students eat healthily and heartily.
1. Avoid Junk Food
This is the first and biggest healthy food tip. Your child may not know it, but junk food is only going to jeopardize their health in the future.
Junk food, instant food, processed food, and packaged food are all types of food that children are familiar with in today’s world.
Some examples of popular junk food are chips, soda, biscuits, french fries, ice cream, chocolate bars, pizza, and cake. These all taste good, but they also damage the body.
The word ‘junk’ itself refers to something that is trash, worthless, or provides no benefit, hence the term ‘junk food’. So, avoid junk food and cut down on snacks.
2. Have a Colorful Spread
Everyone loves colorful things. On a plate, food items of different colors only serve to entice your palate. You can use this to your advantage because vegetables are colorful too. Orange carrots, green peas, yellow melons, red tomatoes, purple eggplants, pink onions, white cauliflowers, green broccoli…the list is endless.
Choose an assortment of vegetables or fruits in various colors and serve them on your child’s plate. They will find the dish mouth-watering and improve their health at the same time. Vegetables offer us ample antioxidants to fight diseases and stay healthy. Such a mixed variety of vegetables will provide a balance of all nutrients. Swap out the boring and bland dishes for something colorful, appetizing, and healthy.
3. Feast on Fiber
To maintain the correct weight and shapely figure, children must be more diet conscious. You need to incorporate high fiber food into your child’s diet.
Adding fiber to your child’s diet will improve digestion, metabolism, and appetite. It also reduces glucose and cholesterol levels. Eat a lot of whole grains and include oatmeal or whole wheat bread to your breakfast.
If they aren’t eating a whole and hearty breakfast already, now is the time to start. Nuts, beans, legumes, and whole grains provide the required fiber for any growing child’s diet.
4. Limit Fat Intake
Excess fat intake leads to obesity in children. Obesity makes children sluggish and they find it difficult to focus in class as well. To avoid this, cut down on fats like the ghee on your roti and parathas, oily poori, cheese spread on the bread, etc. Stop buying fatty junk food like pizzas and burgers frequently as they make your child put on weight.
Roadside food such as samosas and bhajis are often dipped in massive amounts of oil and therefore the intake should be reduced.
Avoid using unhealthy fats in your diet. These bad fats are obtained from animals and are derived from pork, beef, butter, milk or cream.
Not all fat is bad and there are good fats as well. Use only plant-based oils which have good fats like olive oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, etc. when you cook. Fish oil is rich in Omega-3 and can also be used in the diet. Always read the product labels to make sure nothing your child is allergic to or shouldn’t eat is contained within the food.
5. Save On Sugar
Children love eating sweet things and most children have a sweet tooth. Sweets, candies, chocolates, ice creams, pastries, cakes, and desserts all taste great. However, too much sugar is not healthy and leads to weight gain. So substitute fruits instead of candy, yoghurt instead of chocolate, wheat bread over white bread, etc.
The changes should be gradual. For example, if your child likes drinking a lot of Pepsi or Coca Cola soda, first replace this with juice. Then, make your own fresh fruit juice as a replacement, and so on. Sugarless bubblegum can be swapped in for real gum and gives children something to chew on for more than just a few seconds. Sugar itself has substitutes like Stevia.
Fruits are great because they taste sweet but are healthier than cake or ice cream. The next time you visit the store, get more grapes, apples, bananas, and oranges to improve your child’s health.
6. Shrink the Salt
Although salt is generally considered better than sugar, too much of it is still bad. This is why food with high salt content is a no-no for your child.
Processed food and snacks are rich in salt and high sodium, and a majority of salt comes from them. They can cause high blood pressure at a very young age. So, slow down with eating processed food such as french fries, chips, pizza, fried food, tinned food, etc. as they have high levels of sodium.
A lot of store-bought food and meat are high in salt content. Instead, prepare fresh food at home and hold the salt. You can also try baking food instead of frying it as it is a healthier alternative.
Slowly reduce the amount of salt you add to your child’s food and take the salt off the kitchen table. If you want your child to eat healthier, it’s time for a low sodium diet
7. Watch Your Child’s Eating Style & Make Changes
The way you eat determines the way you look and live. Pay more attention to what your child eats during the day. They might be snacking on a packet of chips or guzzling down some soda without you realizing it.
It is impossible to keep track of what your child eats all the time, but you can still make some changes to their eating style.
- Have them eat fewer portions or multiple small meals instead of one heavy meal. Most experts advise eating 5 small meals a day instead of 3 large ones.
- Fill their plate with more vegetables and food rich in protein and nutrients.
- If your child eats too much, one tip is to use smaller plates than a large one to give the impression they are eating more. Do the reverse if they eat too too little. This is a psychological trick.
- Advise your child to eat slowly and taking time to chew the meal. This ensures that the food gets digested properly.
- Turn off the TV, computer, mobile, and other electronics while eating. While looking at these screens, we tend to eat more and more food without realizing it. Nothing should distract them while they are having food.
- Ask your child to drink lots of water. It helps them stay hydrated and provides energy. It also fills up their stomach so they can eat less.
8. Eat Healthy
The last thing is to eat healthy food. Get rid of the fattening junk food and switch them for healthy nuts, dried fruits, salads, grains, and soup.
Avoid purchasing too much junk food and unhealthy food. Instead, replace them with healthier alternatives that taste good while still providing a benefit to your child.
As grownups, it is up to us to set a good example for younger ones and therefore we should make it a point to follow these rules ourselves first.
The move to eating healthier won’t happen overnight. It takes time. However, it is worth it.
Take care of your body when you are young and your body will take care of you when you are old.
Those are the 8 food tips to help your child lead a healthier lifestyle.
Health & Studies
Eating healthy will not only make your child healthier, but it will also sharpen their brain and enhance their academic focus and concentration.
At LetsPractise, we are fully committed to a healthier and better student body.
Children are the future, and we want to help them out any way we can.
That’s why we have prepared practise test sheets and worksheets for school students. Just like fruits and vegetables enrich the body, our practise papers enrich the brain. It’s time to make your brain healthy.
These papers are for the CBSE, ICSE, IGCSE, SSC, and State Boards. They are on a variety of subjects, such as Mathematics, Science, and Languages. You can view our plans and see for yourself. If you have any questions, feel free to contact the LetsPractise team.
Now, that’s some food for thought!
Make your child practise healthy eating using the above tips and make way for a healthy student life!