Published On : Wed, Feb 24th, 2021

Healthy food habits to inculcate in your kids from an early age that will aid their health: Madhuri Ruia, Nutritionist and Pilates Expert

When it comes to eating greens and nutritious food, children end up getting fussy and try to avoid it. Growing up, my mother was extremely particular about what I ate – and she kept a close eye. Now, I credit her for my health consciousness and fitness. I understood the importance of eating healthy and was grateful for the schedule I followed. This helped in planning a healthy diet for my daughters from an early age. It is okay to treat your taste buds once in a while, provided we ensure balancing the nutrients intake in our body.

I personally believe that inculcating good food habits when children are young has several long term benefits and that’s why, I started young, and definitely suggest you do to. The best way to begin is by ingraining smart food choices in your child by making them amply available at home, offering clean and healthy snacks when the child is hungry, and positioning nutritious food as the most preferred choice whenever the child asks for food. Making these conscious efforts in building your child’s innate consciousness to food from the very start will help pave the way better health even when he/she is an adult.

Thanks to a genetic mutation thousands of years ago, modern domesticated sweet almonds are delicious and safe to eat.

Almonds make for a great snacks for kids – they are crunch, tasty and sweet, making them hard to reject. Plus, they offer a host of nutrients like vitamin E, magnesium, protein, riboflavin, etc. which are important for the body’s growth and development. Besides that, almonds are known to have satiating properties, and help keep children full in between meals. Added to that, they are also known to have immunity supporting nutrients like zinc, copper and folate – which I suggest you add a handful to your child’s diet every day.

If you are confused how to give them to your child, and get them habituated to eating them, you can use a variety of methods. First and foremost, ensure your child starts his/her day with almonds – either soaked or peeled, or as a part of his/her morning milkshake, or add them to his/her tiffin box as dessert post the meal. You could also divide the handful and give him/her a few almonds in fixed times during the day. Besides these, you could also add them to the oats, porridge, cereal to get kids to eat them. Once your child is used to this routine, I assure you, he/she will come asking for some on days he/she doesn’t get them, and this will become a lifelong daily habit that you will be glad you helped build.

Green veggies
Kids don’t like green veggies – this is a universal fact. I myself didn’t like them when I was a child, but my mother made sure I had them nevertheless. For parents – getting your child to consume green veggies and happily so requires some level of creativity and innovation – but once your child is habituated, trust me you have won the battle! Green veggies are known to be rich in fiber, folate, and vitamins A and C and aid in the body’s development. Additionally, green veggies are believed to help reduce the risk of obesity and they contain a high content of antioxidants which helps eliminate the toxins from our body. With so much junk food and sweet around, greens are a welcome addition for any parent to keep their child’s weight under control.

A good way to make your child enjoy his/her greens is to combine it with flavours they enjoy, you could make unique and interesting salads (with lettuce, feta or seasonal fruit), add it their home made pizzas or pastas, or create unique sandwich combinations. With greens innovation is key – the more you experiment, the more your child is likely to enjoy his/her greens – so start mixing it up!

Dairy products
Whether it’s a warm milk before breakfast or after dinner, porridge for breakfast, dahi with lunch/dinner or lassi/chhach as a quencher, we Indians love our dairy. With so many options around, and the concept of dairy ingrained in our food spread – it’s not too difficult to get your kid to develop a taste for dairy. Dairy foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, buttermilk are rich in calcium, potassium, phosphorous and other nutrients that help prevent dehydration, tooth decay, and diseases from an early age. Kids usually don’t like the smell of warm milk, however, if you add some honey or sweetener to it, it’s easier to get them to drink up. Besides that – turn to fresh fruit that pairs well with milk and yoghurt, so you can whip up quick and tasty milkshakes and smoothies when your child is being fussy about drinking her milk. Add almonds to his/her milkshake to make it even healthier and nutrient rich.

Inculcating these habits from an early age will help them build a stronger resistance from the seasonal flu/diseases. Additionally, make sure you set a schedule for their breakfast, lunch, and dinnertime to maintain the intake of daily nutrition.