It is every parent’s concern as well as a responsibility to give the best nutrition to the child. With the advent of much-hyped packaged food and their increasing promotions on every possible channel, the parents are confused as to which food is good or bad for their children. What seemed to be healthy turns out to be not so healthy, after research a few years later. In such cases, one can not rule out the role of vested interests.
Children, natural to their age, have a habit of munching something or the other. Due to the reasons they are growing, their hormones demand, they are hyperactive, and they get bored fast, they resort to eating something to divert themselves. This way their health is directly affected depending on what, when, and how much they munch.
The best way to enroll your children into mindful eating is to contemplate on the following points. These points will help one take some actions and stop certain others.
1. Don’t stop giving them munchies yet!
If your child is already having the munchies regularly, stopping it might result in withdrawal symptoms. Yes, eating junk food is no less than an addiction. The Salt, Sugar, and the Fat which are known as Trinity in any fast selling food are known to create a compulsive behavior in the consumers. That is the exact reason why they are generously added to the food too. Stopping your child from eating those snacks might result in resentment. Moreover, it is not the solution that you should be thinking of!
Instead, you may read those packets of food they are eating, with them. Explain to them what is food in it and what is not. You may also watch documentaries and movies on Processed Food on YouTube. This exercise will help you both with additional information about processed food.
2. Make munching a celebration!
Any addiction to food primarily happens due to the contents it has. Once it becomes a habit, it also becomes an automatic process. Gradually the utility factor of taste reduces from the food. Then the child may either demand another but similar type of food or simply eat this one as a routine. What becomes mundane will not bring joy.
Therefore, make the munching a celebration. Celebrations do not come often in our lives. They are special occasions and they remain special only when they are rare. A little bit of not so healthy food will not make much difference in a child’s health. So it is okay to let her have the packaged food once in a while. The key is to make that event, a special one.
3. Be self-aware
Not all the olden days’ practices were healthy. For example, when the plastic pouches of milk were introduced, housewives preserved them by washing and cutting them to rectangular shape, to use later for making patties of sorts. If you continue with the same habit without paying attention to the fact that plastic may melt on the pan and may contaminate your food, you are doing no good by following your elders. Instead, use banana leaves or some other kind of eco-friendly method. Thinking beyond the set practices is the need of the hour.
Similarly, do not let your information come from the food tabloids. For the want of virality, they may write without much research and that is why you can not trust them. Instead, get your information from trustworthy sources.
4. Replace Love & Care with Thoughtfulness
Because love is blind! Out of love, you may allow your child to eat what he wants and undermine the effects of it. If you are thoughtful, it will make you think about the consequences. Thoughtfulness is unbiased and future focussed.
5. Taste is mysterious!
According to Ayurveda, there are 6 tastes a human tongue can recognize. As per modern science, there are only 4 main tastes such as Salty, Bitter, Sour, and Sweet. In the early 1900s, a fifth taste was developed by a Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda and he called it Umami. Umami means deliciousness. Despite much researches, scientists have accepted that there is still a lot to be learned about how the taste buds work and give signals to the brain receptors.
We consider those who eat bland food as the people incapable of identifying the taste. But ironically they are the ones who are more sensitive to the taste than others. They are called as “Supertasters”
Taste is not only a phenomenon inside the tongue but happens in the brain too. Periodic advertisements and branding influence taste preferences.
Considering all the above, it is prudent not to worry much about the taste as the only thing that influences the food habits in children. There are other factors influencing that taste.
6. Don’t get bored too soon!
Do not succumb to easier ways when it comes to keeping your children busy. It is very easy to buy some packets from the supermarket and stuff your cupboard so that your child can reach out whenever required and keep herself engaged. Most of the time what you perceive as healthy stuff may be a detrimental one in a long run.
Two-minute noodles can consume much of their time in the future. It always pays to remain more motivated if you are truly concerned about their health and find ways to prepare interesting yet healthy food for them.
7. Logically analyze the ads & promotions
No milk supplement can alone increase the height of your children to 2X. No carbonated drink can instill sudden courage in them to jump off the cliff. You need to logically analyze the ads along with them. Otherwise, they may think that they are for real. Decipher the real meaning of the ads for them.
8. Bring the best out of rawness
Go to the kitchen before your child goes. The children are hungry at around 4-5 pm in the evening. At times they may not be really hungry but they feel like eating something.
Just before he enters the kitchen and ‘lays’ his hands on something, hand him over a beautifully cut and garnished cucumber or a carrot! You may procure various cutting tools to cut vegetables in different shapes to make it more interesting for them.
9. Find innovative alternatives
If your child likes sweets like Mysore Pak, you don’t have to wait till you go out to bring an authentic Mysore Pak. Or you don’t have to crib you can’t make samosa like Halwai’s shop. Conceive an innovative recipe from the ingredients available at your home. For example, Mysore Pak can be prepared with flour of roasted gram instead of gram flour and you can make it in a pressure cooker in 10 minutes! So what it doesn’t taste like an authentic Mysore Pak, it tastes no less either!
Similarly, you can keep foreign names to desi khana. For example, you can name stuffed idli as Stuffed Rice Dumplings or something like that, just to glamorize the food. Children like to hear unknown and better-sounding words.
10. Problem is not with the food, taste, or the child
Finally, it is not a problem with the food, taste, or your child. It is about the mind! There are instances of people eating something that others can not think of, yet maintaining crisp health. It is all about their consciousness about the food they consume, makes them.
Remember, our body is not away from our mind. In fact, they both are the first glimpses of our awareness about ourselves. So if we are mindful of our body, we will be mindful of how to take care of it as well.
Mindful cooking always comes before mindful eating. Mindful eating is essential to harbor a healthy mind in a healthy body.
Before you think of changing the food habits of your children for good, you must think in different ways, as per but not limited to the above ten, outside the kitchen, and then put them in practice.
Happy Mindful Cooking! 🙂