Eating Healthy Starts Early, Catch ‘em Young!
Then How to Get Your Children to Eat Healthy ‘Ritu, come on, eat up that last apple slice!’ ‘Finish up the carrots on your plate, Aman!’
Sounds familiar? Then How to Get Your Children to Eat Healthy These are common refrains that can be heard floating out of homes with young children. Getting your kids to eat healthily is a very familiar struggle for a parent. We all want our children to reach for nutritious and wholesome food. But it’s not that easy.
Children today are perpetually fighting a host of lifestyle diseases. The numbers don’t look good.
Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2020 showed that, globally, 39 million children below five years of age were obese. Another study from the University of Queensland, said that one in three adolescents globally were at a high risk of developing lifestyle diseases, with 35% of the participants having more than three risk factors.
According to one of the researchers, “Low fruit and vegetable intake, and physical inactivity were the most prominent lifestyle risk factors for NCDs among adolescents (86%and 85%, respectively).”
Barriers to children eating healthy:
Every day, our children are barraged by an array of influences, which make eating those fruits and vegetables a difficult task. Here are just a few.
The lure of digital entertainment:
Watching television or playing video games during mealtimes are distractions that prevent mindful eating. Children whose attention is taken up by electronic devices end up eating more junk food, as this study shows. And, of course, eating when distracted is a surefire way to munch through more than your recommended portion size.
And when they do watch tv shows on YouTube or on television, they are bombarded with advertisements. Recently, the Central Consumer Protection Agency (CCPA) issued a set of guidelines in 2022 prohibiting advertisements for junk foods, sugary drinks, and other snacks or beverages during a program or on a channel meant exclusively for children. The ban hopes to reduce children’s exposure to foods high in sugar, saturated fat, and salt, which might help them become more inclined toward choosing healthy food.
What’s for lunch?
But your problems don’t stop with advertisements or children’s programs. Peer pressure is a significant force among school-going children. “What did you get for lunch?” is the first question children ask each other during lunch break. And this is where they end up trading that orange for fries or that cucumber slice for a toffee. The yearning to be the one bringing a ‘cool lunchbox’ and, therefore, be more accepted is of utmost importance to the young ones.
Junk food is everywhere:
It doesn’t stop with lunch. Junk food is everywhere. It’s at children’s birthday parties, playdate meets, and school canteens. Adolescents can easily buy cheap junk food with their smartphones and get them instantly delivered to satisfy cravings. Very often, your home is close to fast food outlets or corner shops well-stocked with junk food and children can easily buy them with pocket change.
A survey from the Center for Science and Environment (CSE) showed that 93% of the participants ate processed foods while 68% consumed sugary drinks at least once a week. Alarming, isn’t it?
This all brings us to the core of this piece - the importance of starting healthy habits at a young age. And how to do it.
Why prioritize nutrition at a young age:
Good nutrition in the early years is about more than just the right choices of food. It’s also about helping your children form healthy food habits that will eventually develop into a lifestyle in the future. A healthy diet in their first five years will ensure a balanced life as adults. Ensuring our children learn what constitutes a healthy, balanced diet is like giving them the keys to a successful life.
How to get your child to eat healthy
Worried that it’s too late for your child to form healthy habits now? Thinking of numerous ‘what ifs’?
Take a pause because you can start making a change right now and make a positive impact on your child. Here are a few ways to do that.
- Teach them to identify the good things in life
Usually, we tend to focus on foods that are bad and try to keep children away from them. Instead, focus on healthy food. Teach them to identify foods that are good for them by reading labels on food packets. When they understand why some foods are healthier, they will learn to pick foods without sugar, preservatives, chemicals, and so on, on their own. This will create a positive environment and also help them form better relationships with food.
- Smart swaps are the way to go
Children have cravings just like us. And they cannot be curbed all the time. Instead of giving in to them with pizzas, burgers, chips or sugary drinks, you could do some smart swaps to give them the same level of enjoyment. For instance make fresh juice with some honey instead of packaged juices, plain yogurt with fruits instead of flavored yogurt, deep-fried chips with homemade popcorn, and so on.
- Involve them in the process
With careful supervision and guidance, you can involve children in meal prep sessions, setting the table or serving food. Getting those potatoes and onions from the basket, handing you a glass or a bowl, or simply watching while you cook are all exciting activities that nurture a love for good food in children. Older children can even start baking their own favorite items like cookies or muffins with healthier ingredients.
Teach them about the wonders that various nutrients can do to their mind, and body and it won’t be too long before eating healthy becomes a habit.
What’re we doing about this at Artinci?
We realise that learning to eat healthy starts really young. We also realise that children are surrounded by the temptations of cakes, crisps, chocolate bars which can be hard to deny. It gets even harder when one’s child is a Type 1 diabetic, and they have a craving that you don't feel comfortable indulging, for their own good.
That’s exactly who our gluten free and zero sugar desserts are designed for! With good, clean ingredients like almond flour in cakes, an abundance of seeds and nuts in cookies, anti-oxidant-rich dark chocolate bars, all coming together with a ZERO sugar sweetener, parents of our young, 6 year old diabetic customers have been able to help their little ones indulge, worry-free!