The greatest balancing act that one has to successfully manage as a parent is finding the sweet spot between food that’s healthy and food that’s tasty. Picky eater or not, all kids would prefer something that appeals to their tastebuds over something that’s outright boring. If you are wondering, how can you encourage healthy eating habits in your children, you’ve come to the right place. Here are a few tips on how you can balance healthy & tasty food for kids:

1. Focus on an overall diet instead of specific food
Completely removing junk or processed food from our everyday diet is not possible. However, one should definitely try to include more whole and minimally processed food throughout various meals of the day.

2. Collaborative meals
Make a daily or weekly meal plan with your kids and include them in shopping, storing or cooking. When children feel that they’re involved in meal preparation, they are less likely to throw tantrums while eating it.

3. Stock up on healthy food
Kids will mostly eat what’s available at home or is served to them. That’s why it is important to control what food you are allowing inside your home. Small steps like having fresh fruits daily to reducing packaged foods like chips, can go a long way in inculcating healthy eating habits in children.

4. Introduce new food slowly
It takes time for kids to get used to something new. Thus, don’t force-feed new dishes. Rather, give them time to get their taste buds familiar with the taste. You can disguise new foods into their usual favourites as well – add different vegetables to their pizza toppings, substitute white bread with brown bread for sandwiches etc.

5. Schedule meal timings
Fixing meal times and sticking to them can do wonders for you. Not only does it give a sense of order to everyone’s day to day life, but it also doubles up as family bonding time. Moreover, when kids see everyone eating the same food as them at the same time, they’ll feel encouraged to eat the same.

6. Choice over coercion
Mealtime isn’t battle or bargain time. Give kids some control over what they can or cannot have – instead of telling them to eat dish X, ask them what would they like to eat between X, Y and Z. Using food as punishment, reward or bribe may set wrong precedents when it comes to healthy eating.

Balancing nutritious and tasty food will result in kids developing healthy eating habits that’ll be with them well into adulthood. However, while doing so, don’t forget that sometimes little pleasures like having popcorn at the movies or eating ice cream right out of the tub are as important. Just balance these indulgences and fun times with smart food choices and you have nothing to worry about! 

November 25, 2021 — Niyati Mittal