One of the most difficult problems for many moms is feeding their children healthy foods and developing healthy eating habits. Often the best intentions of parents are crushed by sweets and pasta - in an effort to feed their children at least something.
Meanwhile, to organize a healthy diet for the child - it is an extremely important responsibility of every parent, because eating habits are established in childhood. In my humble opinion, this is much more important than, for example, his counting and reading skills at the age of three.
The most interesting thing is that food habits start to form already when a child is exclusively receiving breast milk. So it makes sense for breastfeeding moms to think about their diet from this point of view, too.
When I was nursing my son, we lived in America. I listened to the advice of the local pediatrician, who recommended me to eat as much fruits and vegetables as possible (which was strongly contrary to Russian steamed chicken breast), so that the child gets used to them from the beginning and does not get an allergic reaction when he tries an orange at 3 years for the first time. By the way, if I'm not mistaken, in Russia pediatricians recommend to acquaint children with citrus fruit not earlier than 3 years old, and in Spain, for example, almost all fruit puree for children from 6 months contains orange. In short, every mom chooses her own path and philosophy.
Luckily, my son did not suffer from food allergies, and I tried to feed him different fruits and vegetables from an early age. For example, he loved avocados, which he ate from 6 months old; one of the first fruits he tasted was mangoes. Between the ages of one and two, he ate freshly cooked soup of 5-6 different vegetables every day.
Now my son is three and a half and, of course, I am not 100% happy with his diet. He's had time to try cookies and lollipops on a stick, and now it's an item he craves. But I do not give up, and continue to insist on healthy foods and on every opportunity to give black PR to sweets and flour products.
Here are some simple tips to help children develop healthy eating habits.
1. Start to monitor your diet while you are still pregnant
Often expectant mothers ask what to eat during pregnancy. I have already written about it, but in a nutshell - more natural, fresh plant foods. This is important for the growth and development of the fetus. But in addition, studies have shown that the foods a pregnant woman eats have an impact on the baby's preferences after the cessation of breastfeeding.
2. During the breastfeeding period, try to choose healthy foods
Breast milk not only strengthens your baby's immune system and reduces the risk of food allergies, but it also gives you an extra opportunity to shape your baby's eating habits. Consuming whole plant foods will make breastmilk supernourishing and help teach your baby a taste for healthy foods.
3. When introducing solid foods to your baby, offer mashed vegetables first
Many parents begin to introduce solid foods at about 4-6 months of age. There are lots of theories about where to start complementary foods, and many give preference to oatmeal. However, this can have disastrous consequences for the development of taste preferences. Most white porridge is sweet and bland, and introducing it into your baby's diet at four months of age can form a taste for sweet foods that usually contain very little nutrients. Instead, once your baby reaches six months, offer mashed vegetables as their first solid food.
4. Don't give your baby store-bought juices, sodas and sweets
Offering your baby something sweet can discourage her from eating more bland foods. When your baby's digestive tract is strong enough, you can offer him mashed fruit, but let it be only a small part of his diet. Children should drink water. Despite the fact that I gave my child highly diluted with water organic apple juice without added sugar, he developed an attachment to it, and I spent three days listening to his tantrums and entreaties to wean my son from this habit. I won't make that mistake with my second offspring.
5. Start introducing your child to grains by offering whole grain products
Avoid white flour and processed grains. Opt for quinoa, brown or black rice, buckwheat, and amaranth. These are rich in minerals and nutrients. My son is a fan of quinoa and buckwheat, which makes me very happy. He can eat it every day. And if we bake something, which is rare, we use buckwheat flour instead of wheat flour.
All this advice worked until the age of 2-2.5. When my son started interacting with the outside world more or less independently and realized that there were such pleasures as cookies, muffins, and lollipops, it became harder to influence him. Now I wage an endless battle, telling him every day that superheroes drink green smoothies; that you have to eat broccoli to become strong and smart like Dad; that real ice cream is a frozen berry smoothie with some superfood like chia added to it. And most importantly, I do not get tired of setting the right example to him 🙂 .
And the experts also give these recommendations:
Continue to offer your child healthy foods, even if the first time he refused them
The best way to accustom your child to healthy food is to offer him healthy foods constantly and consistently. Don't be discouraged if he keeps refusing: sometimes it takes time and several tries.
Disguise vegetables and herbs in children's favorite foods or desserts
Some nutritionists and parents don't like the idea of "hiding" vegetables in children's dishes. But it's a great way to add texture and flavor to foods and fill them with nutrients. You can bake muffins with zucchini, make pasta with cauliflower and even make chocolate cake with cauliflower. Add vegetables to dishes the kids already love. For example, you can add other root vegetables to mashed potatoes: yams, parsnips, celery root. And if your child eats meat and likes cutlets, make them half zucchini. And you don't have to announce the new ingredient ahead of time.
Make a smoothie.
If your child likes berries and fruit, you can make a smoothie out of them by adding herbs, avocados, or vegetables. They will not change the flavor much, but the benefits will be great.
Prepare your own healthy analogues of your favorite snacks and sweets
You can make chips out of potatoes or any root vegetables, make chocolate, marmalade, ice cream. Very soon I will be releasing an app with recipes that will have several options for delicious desserts for kids.
Buy groceries and cook with the kids
This way works perfectly for me. First of all, I love buying groceries myself, especially at markets, and even more so, cooking. I cook almost every day and, of course, my son takes an active part. We enjoy tasting the results of our efforts together.