GUIDE YOUR CHILDREN THROUGH HEALTHY SNACKING BEHAVIOURS
Your child’s eating pattern and health status has a lot of influence on their health and well-being as adults. Snacking is a healthy eating habit, giving an allowance to send in more nutrients, but the choice of foods matter a lot. Ensuring that the snack your child consumes is nutrient dense and is contributing to their nutrient requirements to support growth, development and better health is crucial.
Here are a few pointers to ensure that your child develops healthy snacking behavior:
- Stock up on nuts, seeds, makhana, pop corn, nut butter, dried fruits, fruits and fruit yogurt, which can make delicious and nutritious snack options. There are a lot of whole grain, alternatives with a healthy amount of sugar and salt available in the market. Read labels when you choose packed foods (don’t get carried away by glorifying claims).
- Involve children in small snack preparations. Children take pride in consuming food that they prepared and would make healthy snacking interesting for them.
- Fixing meal timing and snack timing can be effective to manage the frequency with which children snack. Ensure the child is not distracted when they are eating as this can tamper the signals of hunger and fullness.
- Be an example – Children often take after their parents when it comes to choice of foods. Ensure your set an example by making appropriate food choices yourself and developing a healthy relationship with food.
- Do not stock up on caddies, pastries, cakes, biscuits at home. Occasional consumption of hyper-palatable foods are okay. Stocking up on these would result in children having access to them every day and may not give way for adequate nutrient dense options. Discourage use of foods or preparations that contain too much sugar or salt.
- Involve your child when you shop – educate them on importance of different nutrients and what benefits mindful food choices on their health. Do not force use or restriction of certain foods, provide them the awareness and allow them to make their choices. They would surely surprise you with what they choose.
- Ensure they have balanced meals rich in essential nutrients, and dietary fiber. This will help the child feel energized through the day and prevent excess cravings.
It’s important to understand that your child’s favorite snacks and most products available in the market contain a lot of refined carbs, sugar, unhealthy fats, sodium and preservatives and overdoing them can have negative effects on the child’s health. It’s important to make the right choices and guide your children to do the same. Childhood eating behaviors can also have an influence on their food choices as adults.
Registered Dietitian, Chennai.
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