Does your child love junk food?
Parents constantly struggle when it comes to drawing the line with junk food. If it was left up to the little ones, every meal would be yummy junk. We know that saying no to those adorable faces can be difficult but it’s something that must be done for sure. To understand why we as parents, must not give in to their requests, let’s understand the problem and answer the golden question.
Why do children love junk food?
We all have a sinful, secret craving for that one favorite junk food no matter how healthy our daily diet is.
Our willpower and good sense seem to completely melt away even at the mere mention of our guilty pleasure. So, it’s only understandable why kids fall so obsessively in love with junk food.
Here are a few reasons:
These unhealthy and even harmful foods have always been advertised by extremely adorable cartoon characters and for decades.
TASTES LIKE NOTHING! YUMMY!:
Another secret to the incredibly wide range of people that absolutely love junk foods, kids or not, is the fact that these snack foods have the most neutral taste possible. This is so that
NOT JUST ‘THE BIG BAD GUYS’!:
Now we can’t put the entire blame of children’s bad food habits on these big, bad corporations. Children do as you do, not as you say. We cannot say this enough! If you eat junk snack foods, your kids will eat junk snack foods. It’s that simple.
Thus, we the parents, have to take some responsibility:
The very first step is to teach about healthy and junk food right from childhood. Habits and knowledge that are imbibed from childhood last for a lifetime. Whenever you introduce a new food in your child’s diet, tell them why it is good for them. For example, you can explain that carrots are good for the eyes, milk has calcium for their bones and that instant noodles are high in calories but contain little nutritional value to help them grow stronger.
Focus on positive modeling:
There is a strong on eating habits. Instead of focusing on the side effects of junk foods, you should focus on the benefits of including healthy eats.
Be a good role model:
a. Children learn the best by observation. To encourage your child to eat healthy, you need to do the same and avoid eating junk
b. If your child sees you eating healthy food, he/she will definitely be motivated to eat healthily
c. Example, when eating out, opt for healthier food options like a sandwich over a burger. If you crave for noodles, prepare them from scratch rather than using the instant variety.
Don’t use junk food as reward or a bribe:
Many times, parents tend to use chocolates or chips or other calorie rich snacks as rewards or bribes for making their children complete a homework assignment or help them at home. If you use junk food as a bribe, the child gets the message that it is absolutely okay to eat these foods.
Take your child shopping with you and buy only healthy foods:
Involving your child in the process of grocery shopping, reading food labels with them and shopping only for healthy foods, promotes the idea of eating well. Avoid shopping for instant noodles, pasta, soups or popcorn. Read food labels with your child when grocery shopping and check the ingredient list.
If there are more than 5-6 ingredients listed on the label, chances are the food is highly processed, so avoid purchasing it. This food shopping experience will empower your child and make him/her more confident about food choices right from a young age.
Have a “cheat day”:
It’s almost impossible to stop your child from eating junk food completely. If you are a very strict parent, your child will end up eating junk food without your knowledge using the pocket money you give. So rather than having an absolute “NO” rule, set aside a day in the week where your child can eat one of his favorite foods. You could start the meal with a portion of soup or salad and reduce the portion size of his/her favorite food if you want.
Break the monotony:
If you prepare the same food every day, your child is more likely to get bored and crave for junk food. Add some new and different food to your child’s diet regularly. The more variety you provide your child at home, the less likely he/she is going to crave junk. Also, try different cooking methods—for example, you could include banana in the diet as a fruit, as a milkshake, as a part of whole wheat banana bread, even as a vegetable etc.
Fruits and dry fruits to the rescue:
Children love eating chocolates, ice-cream, pastries or other sweets. Fortunately, fruits and dry fruits are great substitutes to satiate that sweet tooth.
Next time your child wants to eat a sweet, cut him a fresh fruit or give him some dates and figs. Pureed fruits like orange, strawberry and banana frozen in ice cubes to can be used as substitutes for ice-cream.
Make sure they get enough sleep:
Those who have sleep deprived have less ability to avoid junk snacks. Make sure your child sleeps at least 7-8 hours every day. This will help them regulate their appetite too.
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