Eating healthy food is extremely important, especially for kids and teenagers who are still growing. As they get older, your child is going to have increasing control over what they eat – particularly if they have lunch provided at school. Interventions to improve child nutrition at school have included everything from reducing cookie size, adding fruit to classroom cupcake celebrations, and giving vegetables attractive names, to more comprehensive strategies such as “veggecation” curricula and transforming school cafeterias.
There is (almost) nothing more stressful to parents than the challenge that “picky” little eaters can present. Many parents worry about their child’s eating habits once they leave their house. When children are at school, this may be the first time that they encounter an environment where they can choose what they eat and not have their parents standing over their shoulder telling them which food to choose.
School Lunches: 7 Ways to Get Your Children to Eat
Given below are seven effective ways that will help your child eat better at school
Involve your child in lunch planning
Children love to plan and pack their own meal. Give your child options about what to pack for lunch, like “would you like to have an apple or broccoli?” will give them a sense of pride and will make them eat the food they packed for themselves.
Try separating their food
There comes a phase when children become picky about their foods. Your child might not be eating macaroni with peas. But have you tried separating the peas? Yes, that is true. Your child might eat the peas when kept on a separate plate. Give it a shot.
Talk to them
If your child is getting irritated and is not finishing his lunch, then don’t get stressed up. Rather, talk to him. Ask him why he is not eating his lunch, and you might get surprised with the answers. It might be just the color of the food that is setting him off.
Easy to open lunch boxes
This might sound silly, but it is common in younger kids. Many a time, children end up eating in canteens or not eating at all, because they are unable to open their lunch boxes. So make sure that you let them open their boxes at home first, before packing them for school.
Prepare a healthy snack
Children love eating snacks, and you can prepare healthy snacks for them. Try adding vegetables and fruits he like in them, or making a delicious dip full of protein. Make varieties that form a balanced healthy diet.
A very little effort can encourage your child to eat healthy at school. Like, add a lot of different items in his lunch, that contain everything from veggies, fruits, homemade muffin etc. or some days try cutting the sandwich in triangles rather than in four pieces.
Reduce the size
Decreasing the cookie size, led to 25 percent decrease in cookie calories eaten. Lessen the sugar intake they are taking, or turn to non-processed sugars like honey or jaggery.
Everything starts at home
It is necessary to know that if your child eats healthy food at home, then he will obviously inculcate that habit and will practice that in school too. So given below are few tips that will help your child to get into a habit of eating healthy food.
Eat together: Your kids need to see you eating healthy. Aim for at least 3 meals together per week. It doesn’t have to be dinner either! Make any of your favorite family meal, like breakfast.
Shop together: Take your kids to the grocery store or farmers market. Get them involved, and let them pick out a new food to try that week that catches their fancy.
Always serve veggies: Don’t leave veggies off the table (and kids’ plates!) even if your kids haven’t been eating them. Kids need to be exposed to veggies over and over (and sometimes, OVER!) again before they eventually eat them. Don’t worry about waste, you can use them up the next day by having as a snack, tossing into a salad or even a morning omelet for yourself.
Stop talking: Just do. This is a hard one! You don’t want to over-talk eating well. Instead, make healthy foods available, make sure your kids see you eating healthy and it will become the “norm” for your kids to do the same.
Portion your meals in the kitchen: Portion at least the protein and starch part of the meal in the kitchen and put out extra veggies on the table. This way if your kids are still hungry after rice, they only have the broccoli to dive into.
Avoid these things
Obviously, there are some DONT’S that you will have to follow, and they are:
Don’t say diet: It is best if you can avoid this topic or end it altogether. Take it out of your vocabulary once in for all right now!
Don’t reward with food: This is a tough one, and everyone’s done it! But don’t make it a habit. Come up with your own system that works for you.
Don’t try to control your kid’s hunger cues: It’s hard enough to control our own! Kids are much better at knowing if they’re hungry or not, and forcing them to clean their plate can teach them to unlearn how to listen to their bodies. Kids aren’t loaded down with emotional issues tied to eating, and you want to keep it that way. Empower your kids to listen to their bodies as much as possible.
Don’t isolate your overweight child: Don’t make an overweight or underweight child feel different in your family. Create a food culture for your family that everyone is on board with and stick to it.
Don’t deprive your child of cake: Whatever it is, cake, cookies, fries. If you’re out at a birthday party and everyone’s eating cake, let your kid have it too. Your child should be able to see that there are times and places to indulge in food. If you deprive them in a social situation, it could lead to emotional or closet eating.