What do I cook for meals?
This is a lingering thought I have constantly.
I want my kids to have a balanced diet. The food must be according to everybody’s taste as well. I must try to be a little innovative as well. So many aspects to consider before deciding the menu. 🙁
With an experience of 15 years (My elder one is 15!), I have learned a few facts that I am sharing with you today.
I am not going to tell you what food to give. You are the best judge for that, and you will also get enough content over the net on balanced menus. I will share facts on how to improve their habits and what acts to avoid. This will help you get them to have balanced food and keep them healthy. 🙂
First and foremost
Avoid short-order cooking
This will save your effort as well. If you cook separate dishes for the kids it will start becoming monotonous for them. They will not get new dishes to try on. Instead of that, you can add more variety to the regular meal. The kids can pick and choose. It is good if they taste all dishes! They must learn to explore and enjoy the food. Moreover, if you eat the same food, they will follow and mimic you as well.
They will learn to slurp hot soup, learn to take out fish bones, learn to eat neatly just by observing you. You do not have to explicitly teach them.
Make them have food on their own
You have started to let them explore their dishes as early as they are 1-2 years old. They might mess up a bit. But that is fine. With my elder one, I was very cautious about everything and used to feed her and do all her other stuff myself. She learned everything late. Learning the lesson, I gave more freedom to my younger one and she became independent for most of the activities very fast without much effort from my side. This also made her develop regular eating habits and made her less fussy as well.
Avoid stocking junk and processed food
Being a working mother, I could not afford to cook their snacks in the evenings. This led to the stocking of chips, cookies, cakes, and other processed and junk food at home. But I realized that this is not good for their health and instead started the habit of milk and fruits for evening snacks. Munchies were fine occasionally. They made a fuss over having milk, so I let them have it the way they like. Sometimes fresh fruit shakes, or hot chocolate, etc. This way I could make them have milk as well as reduce processed food.
Allow to freak out occasionally
While you make your kids have nutritious and balanced food regularly, give a chance to them to have fun as well. It is perfectly fine to freak out sometimes. I treat them with McDonald’s or Pizza Huts a couple of times a month. It becomes a party time for them, and they are happy to get back to the regular routine as well.
Must be strict sometimes
Kids can be fussy as ever. Sometimes they become very stubborn. If we show our concern or try to persuade them, they become even more fussy and cranky. One of my friends suggested that it is fine to be strict sometimes. If they are being too fussy, leave them hungry for some time. Do not make a different dish or try to give any junk food etc. When they are hungry, they will have the same food after some time. This happens especially when we are introducing some new food, as most kids are aversive to try new food.
Ensure physical activity and high protein intake
Proteins and physical activities are very important for the kids’ growth. Physical activities can be anything. Biking, outdoor games, skating, dancing, anything which they enjoy. Ensure they have playtime with friends or siblings. Proteins like eggs or lentils must be part of their diet. If they do not like it, then you can mix it in some dish or make it a dip or a side dish.
I have seen if you make the food look attractive, they become very excited and just have it. So, you can bring in some color or decorate by making a smiley,etc.
Sometimes, I have a home party with a platter with a burger or cutlets. I also add soup, corn, and salads. So, it becomes a good blend of nutrients and kids just love it.
Do not miss breakfast
Whether an adult or a child, breakfast is a must-have. Your digestive system must work seamlessly. Hence, ensure kids have a proper breakfast.
Normally kids are physically more active and sweat. The more they drink water the more hydrated and clean their body will be. This will keep them healthy and it will help flush out the toxins from the body. So, ensure water is handy wherever they are. You can keep bottles of water in different places at home and let them take it when they go out to play.
If your kids are more than 5 years, you can even have them cook on their own. It can be fire-less cooking when they are small. This makes them enjoy cooking and enjoy food as well!!!
I have shared some of my experiences and learning here, hope it helps you to keep your children healthy and growing 🙂