Ever heard anyone say "do not play with your food" ? Maybe you have said it yourself to your little one because that is what you have always heard. Maybe you have even coaxed your little one to eat their veggies and bribed them with a sweet 'treat' later.
For most of us eating becomes a business like activity where you trade in by eating what is good for you - vegetables, fruits, proteins etc so that you can then get rewarded with a 'treat' which is not so good for you.
But what if you learnt to pick out what is good for you because you wanted it and not because a reward awaited you? What if you could teach your kids to do that?
Let your children play with their food. Yes, you read that right. Let your kids come up with creative ideas about food. Make food time fun, at least in the beginning. Do not hurry them and make it a serious affair. Let them rearrange their food so that it looks like something they like. Let them take a little time over their food. It will save a lot of time bargaining later.
Make them part of the preparation Slightly older kids can help set the table, maybe even pick out groceries. Small chores like shelling peas or peeling bananas will make them part of the end product and motivate them to eat.
Talk to them about what food does. Do not make every meal a lecture on food and right eating, but try and tell them how fruits and vegetables and other right foods help them grow.
Ask them how they feel. Children are smarter and more sensitive than they often get credit for. Ask them how they feel after a sugary treat or a full healthy meal. make them aware that food has a direct relationship with how we feel and behave. Allow them to make mistakes and learn.
Stop being the food police. The word no often sets kids off. Do not be constantly on the look out for what they are doing wrong. One day of over eating or cake and ice cream will not disrupt their lives. Choose your battles wisely.
Lead by example. Do not store foods that will tempt you to eat unhealthy. You might be an adult and responsible for your own well being but your child is watching you and learning from you.
Eating right is the base to a healthy and happy life. Forming habits that make it easy through life begins with toddlers. Make it fun for you and your little one!
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