We have a societal fear of fats these days. The truth is some fats are good for us: adults and children alike. In fact, children need a slightly higher fat intake than adults. So cutting all fat out of your child’s diet isn’t the best idea. Similarly, kids also need more calories proportional to their body weight than adults do. The fix to this is easy: along with fruits and veggies, include whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes and good fats such as nut or seed butter in their meals.
- Stop using terms such as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods
Children learn from the adults in their lives – so if you have an unhealthy relationship with food, you’re likely to pass that on. By that same token, the language that you use to describe food, As a parent, it’s hard not to worry about your child. Is your little eating enough or too little? Is he or she getting all the right nutrients to be healthy and strong? Little ones can be notoriously picky eaters, so sometimes just getting them to eat something feels like a win. There’s no absolute right or wrong way to parent – but there are things you can do to make sure that your child is getting the right nutrients AND developing good eating habits and attitudes towards food. On the flipside, there are definitely things that you should definitely examine and/or avoid. Here are some common nutrition mistakes that you could be making with regard to your child, and how you can fix them.
- Keep an eye on the sugar
There’s sugar in more foods that we know. ‘Fruity’ snacks and juices, breakfast cereals and other ready-made food products are often loaded with sugar. While you don’t have to cut these out entirely, read the labels on the products that you buy so you have some sense of the sugar content. Also replace the fruit snacks with actual fruits. This way, your little one learns to appreciate fruits as a source of sugar at a young age.
- Avoid bribes and ‘rewards’
Sure, offering your small one a treat – maybe a dessert they like or a sweet – as a bribe to eat or as a reward for eating the foods that they don’t want might seem like a pretty harmless thing to do. But what you might not realize is that this signals to them that certain foods are worth eating. Sweets and desserts therefore become more valuable to your child than their regular food.
- Include fat- and calorie-rich foods
Labeling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ dictates how your kids see these foods too, and can lead to your child also developing the same attitudes towards food. What you can do instead is tell them how the particular food is good or bad for them.
- Stop cooking separate meals
It’s easy to fall into the habit of preparing a separate meal for your kid that you know he or she will eat. And while this might seem like a sensible thing to do, in the long run, you’re encouraging fussy eating and limiting your little one’s diet. Instead, what you could do is prepare the same meal but with a slight variation in the amount of spice you use. This way, he or she is exposed to a larger variety of flavors and foods.
- Giving up on new foods too soon
Eating preferences change. And while it might seem like a failsafe option to offer your child the foods that you know he or she will certainly eat, this isn’t ideal. What you want to do is keep offering them new foods, even if they don’t try it first.
It can take 10 or more attempts for a child to try a new food. Often, they are also influenced by siblings and friends. So don’t give up too soon!
- Cut down on the big portion sizes
In a world of super-sized servings, it’s easy to forget that your little one has a rather little stomach, and needs child-sized portions. The calculation is about a tablespoon for each year of life. Serving your child too much food can also seem intimidating to your small human, and when he or she doesn’t eat it all, it can be disappointing for you. Instead, why not start small – after all, you can always offer seconds and thirds if they want it.
- Encourage older children to eat by themselves
Kids learn to pick and put things in their mouths by the time they are about 8 months old. So why are you still feeding your preschooler? Encouraging your little ones to feed themselves encourages them to try different types of food and also fosters a sense of independence and accomplishment. And who doesn’t want that for their little one, right?
Aditi and Chirag, our founders are parents themselves and understand the challenges of ensuring that your small people get all the nutrients they need to stay healthy and nurture a healthy relationship with food. They want to make sure your (and theirs) children are getting the right nutrition and not fall into the trap of fast foods and easy fixes. It’s what prompted us to create Go Go Fuel, our brand new plant-based multi-nutrition powder for your school-going munchkins. Loaded with up to 10 grams of protein per serving, plus 18 vitamins and minerals, and most importantly, absolutely no refined sugar, it is a delicious and healthy addition to your child’s diet. Bring Go Go Fuel home today and tell us how your little ones like it.