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Child DevelopmentParenting Tips

How to make your child eat healthy foods #nationalnutritionweek

Why Nutrition is important for a child ?

This #NationalNutritionweek , let's discuss about how to make a child love eating healthy options. This post answers to - How can I make my child healthy ? 10 Tips to ensure your child loves healthy food #healthy #healthyfood #healthykids #nutrition #food #healthyfood #forkids #parentingwin

This #NationalNutritionweek , let’s discuss about how to make a child love eating healthy options. How can I make my child healthy, that’s often a question I see most of the mums asking each other. There is no perfect answer to it, as everything gets customized from one child to another child. The necessity of healthy foods and healthy lifestyle for children is aimed at :

  • A much better gut health and digestive system
  • Better Brain development
  • Physical activity
  • Appropriate body weight (ditching obesity)
  • Better bone and muscle strength
  • Enhanced Immunity

With these goals in mind, at times we focus too much on the vegetable part without running through the basics, which derails our strategies. Kids need the same nutrients as what we adults need, just the quantum of nutrients varies with age.

Being a first time mum, even I made a lots of mistakes. It was me, who resorted to videos to make my child finish his food. And I felt won when the plate was empty. I hardly heard his hunger cues and went by the fixed schedule.

This in turn never allowed my child to know the real taste and understand his hunger cues. How did our mothers do? There were no videos then and my mum never had problem with us as kids wrt eating. Was there any magical potion?

No, It was allowing kids to understand their hunger intuition, having healthy foods around and family lunches and dinners. When all sit together to have the same food, the outcome is really different. My so conceived “Parenting win” was actually a big fail, but I rectified it soon!

What are the nutritional needs of a child?

This #NationalNutritionweek , let's discuss about how to make a child love eating healthy options. This post answers to - How can I make my child healthy ? 10 Tips to ensure your child loves healthy food #healthy #healthyfood #healthykids #nutrition #food #healthyfood #forkids #parentingwin

There are 5 basic food groups that a child needs to incorporate in their daily diet which are Proteins, Carbohydrates, Vegetables, Dairy Products and Fruits. Yes, that’s all what children needs to fulfil their dietary requirements. And when we come to nutrients, then here is what we need to help kids with :

  • Calcium : For strong bones and teeth, for blood clotting : Milk, Cheese, Yogurts, Tofu, Almonds, mixed seeds (Sesame, Chia, Flax seeds) , Quinoa, Beans, Spinach
  • Iron : Must for Healthy Blood : Iron fortified cereals, Whole grains, Beans, Nuts, Beetroot, Spinach, broccoli, Brown Rice
  • Vitamin A & C : For skin, eyes, immunity : Carrots, Spinach, All Vegetables, Citrus fruits, Tomatoes, Papaya
  • Vitamin B (including Folates) : Must for overall growth and development of a child : whole grain cereals, beans (Kidney, Soya, black), Lentils, Green leafy vegetables, Broccoli, beetroot, citrus fruits (oranges, lemons), Nuts, seeds , avocados, Banana
  • Vitamin D : Must to absorb calcium and for bone strength and growth : Vitamin D is naturally found in very less foods, the best way is to promote kids to play in sunshine to help them have that daily dose(Prevent excessive heat). Opt for Vitamin D fortified foods, Mushrooms, Cheese being a vegetarian. 
  • Fats : A great source of energy for kids (never rule out healthy fats) : Olives, Nuts, avocados, Olive oil (Extra Virgin) and Coconut oil, Chia seeds (have Omega -3 for cognitive development), Coconuts, Yogurt.
  • Dietary Fibre : For maintaining bowel health, healthy weight, and controlled cholesterol : Nuts and seeds, Whole grains, Beans, Legumes, more of raw fruits, berries (compared to juices) and Vegetables, Oatmeal.
  • Zinc : For development of brain, immune system : Legumes, Nuts, beans, seeds, Whole grains, Dairy products

How to make child love healthy foods?

Knowing this there are many reservations when it comes to kids eating healthy . As in, 

*Be whatsoever, my child doesn’t eats vegetables

*My child loves his french fries, biscuits and there remains no space left for fruits and vegetables

*My child loves his milk and intakes 4-5 glasses a day, which leaves less scope for other things

These are all very common questions and most of the mums have been struggling, but what we need to focus here is “back to basics”. Some days kids will love eating more and really less on other days, and honestly that is Okay! Kids are intuitive eaters and this is what I have learnt from my mom.

1. Right snacking :

Keep fresh cut fruits, curd, yogurts, baked tortilla chips, various salads (beans, sprouts) handy for the snacks time. You can also go for whole wheat pasta’s with lots of vegetables for a perfect snack. Don’t give milk all the time, as it is really filling and doesn’t leaves space for other nutrients. 2 glasses milk, a day is enough for kids post 2 years.

2. Store healthy stuff’s :

Kids usually look out for things stored in the house. Ensure that you have no chips, packed juices, extra sugary/salty things stored. Instead keep nuts, dry fruits, peanut butter, hummus dip, fruits (or dried fruits), yogurts ready for that snacking time.

3. Involve kids in grocery shopping, meal planning and preparations :

Involving kids in choosing vegetables, deciding for dinner, gives you ample options to make them aware of good nutrition. Kids really get excited when they are involved and Master A loves to open up his refrigerator and decide upon the vegetable for the dinner.

4. Don’t always say “No” to sweets :

Saying “No” to things provokes them more out of curiosity. If your child wants sweets, go for some frozen fruits dipped in chocolate sauce or home made custard with nuts and fruits for them. Try using brown sugar instead of the white processed ones. This way kids will have their own form of sweets which are healthy.

5. Lots of outdoor fun daily :

The more physical activity kids do, more will be their appetite and they will tend to have healthy foods you offer.

6. Keep food portions fixed & have family dinner :

Keep food portions fixed for their meals. Try to have family dinners on the dining table and ensure “No Video’s or TV” while eating. Kids do not understand the taste or servings as their mind is fully into the online videos they are watching.

This is a personal experience, when I myself resorted to vides when he was 2 as stated above. But within 3-4 months I realised that he was just gobbling down what I gave and never knew the real taste of the food and never demanded on his own. I stopped all videos and I started focussing on the food I served him. Around 2 months, things were difficult, but after that till today, I’m a happy mum. He loves his vegetables, pulses and asks me to cook them. He established his taste, which was most important to me.   

This #NationalNutritionweek , let's discuss about how to make a child love eating healthy options. This post answers to - How can I make my child healthy ? 10 Tips to ensure your child loves healthy food #healthy #healthyfood #healthykids #nutrition #food #healthyfood #forkids #parentingwin

7. Try not to use food as rewards or punishments :

Never use food options as rewards pr punishments, as kids tend to overeat the rewarding food losing their appetite for healthy substitutes. Rather take your child for some fun activities.

8. Let them know the importance of healthy food wrt activities they love :

This is what I have been doing. Master A is amazed at the strength of his Optimus prime and he loves sports.

We went for a Junior Badminton championship and there he saw kids eating banana’s before their matches. Little support from me, made him understand that he needs energy and strength to be strong, play his favourite sports.

And Hola! My work became much easier. Most of the time I try to explain him the benefits (in simpler terms) of healthy foods and he is all into a big “Yes” as he wants to be strong for his loved activities.

9. Practise healthy eating habits yourself :

Kids imitate your lifestyle and none can deny that. So first practise yourself. If you’ll go for samosa’s instead of a sweet corn, kids will for sure pounce on samosa’s only. Try opting for healthier choices in your food plate and kids will slowly own that taste.

10. Offer interesting variations :

Many a times, kids don’t like basic flavour of the veggies prepared. Its natural. Make granola bars as energy bars at home. Offer variations, make a vegetable soup with lots of veggies, or roast them or use them in their favourite snacks as pasta, fried rice, vegetable sevaiyaan, whole wheat sandwiches and more. 

And yes be patient! Motherhood is all about being patient and tricky, lol. You cannot expect a child to love all servings in first go. Be consistent in your offerings, keep doing small variations, kids will slowly start eating the food you want them to. And believe me, this is what I have learnt and practised with Master A. All these tips have helped me in one phase or the other to ensure that I’m working on the right path for his growth and development.

Hope this post helps you as a mum, throw in questions , your experiences in the comment section!

This #NationalNutritionweek , let's discuss about how to make a child love eating healthy options. This post answers to - How can I make my child healthy ? 10 Tips to ensure your child loves healthy food #healthy #healthyfood #healthykids #nutrition #food #healthyfood #forkids #parentingwin

Stay healthy,

Love Jhilmil

Disclaimer : This post is not a medical substitute and cites my own experiences and learnings only. Refer to your paediatrician to work upon the diet chart for kids basis their age.

This is my second post in the #MyFriendAlexa Campaign, one of the biggest blogging event and my 1st to join in!

I am taking my Alexa Rank to the next level with with Blogchatter, I’ll be penning down some interesting stuff with #Mommyinmewrites , be tuned!

86 comments
  1. Sajid Akhter

    Hi Jhilmil,

    Great post! Healthy eating habits for kids are very important as this will help them become stronger physical as well as mentally. Right amount of vitamins, minerals, protein and other components are necessary for healthy development of a child.

    Thanks for sharing this post. Have a great post. 🙂

  2. Nihar Pradhan

    Lovely piece of checklist and with good pointers. Nutrition for children are a constant debate and what to eat and what not to eat becomes the contest between the mother and child. The fight is on. There is no end to it. The child love to negate what is thrown at him, he loves to grab what is tempting.

    For children eating is intuitive and we need learn the nature of eating of our child and it differs from child to child. The type of food to the timing of food and how to make eating a fun process. If it is compulsive they hate. Anything imposed on them they resist. Anything taken away forcefully they will demand more of it. Tips you have mentioned very practical and key to success, for instance storing of healthy stuff as they keep searching the house when they are hungry.

    Building on the eating habits and eating together as a family and keeping the gadget away…also involving in the purchasing exercise and the food preparation process makes them interested in the choice of good food and healthy eating habits.

    #MyFriendAlexa, #MakeupReads

    1. Jhilmil

      Indeed Nihar, feeding the right food at the right time is seen so much of challenge, whereas actually it isn’t if the basics are followed from the start. This post had all my learnings and experiences. Thanks for coming by and giving your valuable thoughts.

  3. anupriya

    Your introduction resonates with my own experiences too much. But as my boy turned five I realised he does not understand his hunger cues and I was just feeding him to keep my anxiety levels low. But now I have stopped doing that, I encourage him to eat on his own, even if it means smaller portions and make sure that his nutritional needs are met through other non-full-time-meal components such as – nuts, raisins, milk, fruits, cheese etc.
    Thanks for this wonderful post.

  4. Sitharaam Jayakumar

    Great tips on how to handle a child’s eating. I also like the exhaustive list of nutritional foods that you have listed that covers almost everything. And yes it is better to let the child have his way in certain things rather than following a fixed routine. #MyFriendAlexa #JaiSReads

  5. Abhijit

    A proper nutritious diet is important for both child and adult. More and more we spent time in a sedentary manner. We drive to work. Sit on a chair for more than 8 hours to 10 hours. Then drive back home. Add to this cigarette, active and passive smoke, alcohol and unhealthy died of fried food, sugar and fat rich food, high cholesterol food list goes on and on. Incidence of childhood obesity is on the rise in India. From this angle, your post is so important that describes how to eat healthy. importance of green vegetables is highlighted. Importance of fibre in vegetable is highlighted. Such type of post is a must read for all people, young and old, single or married.

    1. Jhilmil

      Thank you so much sir, this is the agony that parents themselves are not pushing kids for healthy choices and physical activity. So many times I see every member of the family is on phone or TV, but where is this leading to? Parents need to re-think now and implement back to basics strategy.

  6. Pri

    A comprehensive guide for all new mothers. Most tend to ignore point no 9.
    It is only when the mother stays fit and healthy herself that she can care best about the child.

  7. Varad

    This is a fantastic post. Luckily, my wife made our firstborn fall in love with veggies right when he was young and that was half the mountain climbed. We’ve made sure that he tries everything before forming an opinion. Thankfully, he doesn’t dislike much. Now, the process has started once again with our second kid.

  8. Mayura Amarkant

    This is such a brilliant pos! Requires a huge change in mindset though. I love the way you presented the point about replacing biscuits and processed foods with healthy stuff. Thank you for writing this. Keep writing. Looking forward to reading more posts from you. #MyFriendAlexa #MayuraReads

  9. Varsha

    Junk Food rules every kid’s plate these days and this post was a superb one especially for newbie mommies. I’m saving this for future reference.

    #vigorousreads #MyFriendAlexa

    1. Jhilmil

      Yes, I do agree there are days and for those days, I keep other things for rescue. My child loves story telling, painting, so I try to involve him into these activities and simultaneously ask him to finish his food. It really helps me!

  10. Gurjeet Chhabra

    I am the one who always run behind kids with food. Tips are great will try for sure. Mom like me can’t make food reward or punishment, because my kid does not like to eat. It is my reward if they est happily

  11. Rashmi

    This made a great read.. having a balanced and nutritious diet is important for all and kids more because they are still growing. Liked the idea of not saying no tonsufar and rather giving them healthy desert treats 🙂 will practice this henceforth

  12. Ashvini Naik

    Absolutely agree with you, Jhilmil. Healthy eating starts early.

    It’s hard to alter the food habits of grown ups, especially when they happen to dine out more often independently. Therefore, it’s important for us to instill the right idea about food & health right from the beginning.

    Loved your detailed post & glad to find a mom who thinks quite like me.

  13. Nayantara Hegde

    This post is complementary to my own post for National Nutrition week. You have some great tips here on how to make them eat the healthy stuff. I like the idea of involving kids in meal planning and grocery shopping.

  14. Mann

    making kids eat according to us is one hell tough job. We all have devised some ways to give nutrients to these tiny tummies. I never store chips or likes in home. Most of the time snacking has to be as fruits. and one thing that I am proud of is no TV while eating. Thanks for a lovely post.
    #mannreads

  15. Charu

    Great post Jhilmil. Right snacking makes a lot of difference. I have stopped hoarding junk, biscuits, etc in my house post kids. They don’t see it and so don’t ask for it.

  16. Namratha

    I think family dinners is the best thing we can do for our kids and practising, not just preaching healthy eating habits. Storing and cooking healthy for all gets children into the habit as well.

    Namratha from #firstgreenstep #MyFriendAlexa

  17. Rashmi

    A detailed post to signify the importance of proper nutrition and healthy diet and how it is crucial for a child’s overall development, Jhilmil.
    I too believe that we should not stuff the child just with the dietary plans. Instead learn her/his likings, impart them proper knowledge with suitable examples and yes family meals of course helps a lot.

  18. Tina

    Food time is war time at our home. My son hates everything – healthy food, junk food. Only well plated and well decorated food works here! Nutrition is so important, I try to hide nutritious food and give them to him in camouflage

  19. Shilpa Gupte

    I can imagine what an amazing mommy you must be! The kind of diet you have written about goes a long way in showing the kind of pains you must take for your baby to eat healthy. If only every child followed this diet, there wouldn’t be any unhealthy, obese kids around!

  20. Varsh

    I believe in pampering kids with their junk food occasionally but mostly it is about eating homemade, fresh and healthy food. I agree we can set an example by practicing it ourselves too.

  21. Sayeri

    I think you have shared all the imp tips here. I think I should start following these. Kids need the proper nutrition and as a mom, it’s our responsibility to take care of this part.

  22. SUJATA TAWDE

    Hi Jhilmil, Many Thanks. ‘How to make your child eat healthy food ‘ is applicable to all our family members. Proper Nutrition and Good Habits will make us all Healthy & Wealthy. #MyFriendAlexa #SujatawdeReads

  23. Avantika

    I completely agree with the point that we should avoid storing processed/unhealthy food so that we don’t consume the same. At the same time, I do allow sweets occasionally, they’re kids after all – we grew up eating them too – and are okay so far!

  24. Anubhuti Seth

    Lovely article. Some tips were so good that will implement right away. Food and nutrition is an topic that is always an interesting read. The more you learn the more you can implement for you kid and family as a whole.

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