We all want our children to eat healthy meals. We all are very fussy about what goes into their stomach. We all want them to have their share of veggies, fruits and protein and go easy on sodas, candies, pizzas and burgers. In our quest to make them eat healthy, we often tend to forget that we need to do it as a FAMILY and that its not a dikhtat. We forget that as much as healthy eating is important, we need to empower the kids to make that choice rather than enforcing it on them. As a result, we make healthy food sound like a punishment and I took the joy out of the process of devouring that juicy apple and that sugar less cookie.
We create the rules and take the enjoyment out of something that can clearly be enjoyed if dispensed in a way that is mindful and empowering.
While it might look silly to teach mindfulness to a young child, the fact is that your child is way more mindful. The younger the better. Your child is more tuned in to smell, sight, taste, touch and hearing as its his way to learn and survive. All we need to do is to give them the skills at that age so that they can carry it on till when they are older.
You can practice these strategies to helo inculcate the practice of mindful eating.
Accept and nurture your differences and that there are a variety of ways in which each experiences food.
Talk about food. Food is one of the best teaching tools. You can learn geometry, health culture and science in that plate on your table. During conversations, discuss what a healthy food is. Do it in a fun way. Talk about shape. Talk about health. Tell them how protein can help build muscles and help carbohydrates can help them run. Talk about science.
Get your child involved in food selection and meal preparation.
Take your child grocery shopping and talk about nutritional value of the produce.
Children like to help; let your child wash produce, set the table, toss the salad, sprinkle cheese or spices, or anything safe for her age.
Let them try and cook something once a month - from pancakes to omlettes to salads. Let them cook something simple.
Make meal times for meals only. I am sort of guilty of this one and I am trying to be mindful when making meals. While it’s tempting to turn the TV on or feed your child when he’s playing, try to avoid doing so. One of the principles of mindful eating is to direct all awareness to the feeding experience.
Be a role model. Your actions and attitudes matter. Children who fear trying new foods have mothers who do too, and children who are picky with vegetables have mothers who don’t vary their vegetable intake. Children want what their parents have, so make sure you are eating healthy foods to nourish your body too. Be aware of how you think of or label foods. Avoid being judgmental.