Banning junk food outright is not the answer. Here are some tricks to regulate the supply of unhealthy treats.
By Prachi Mandholia
Can you keep your child away from not so healthy foods, Monday through Friday? Here are some tricks to make this possible.
I know you wished your kids lived in a bubble full of healthy foods and away from all artificial flavoured and high sugar foods. But we live in the real world where kids are exposed to junk food much earlier than what we parents would have been.
Studies show that banning junk food outright is not the answer, it may actually backfire. Rather, educate the children and train their minds to restrict unhealthy foods. Send them for nutrition sessions conducted by a certified nutritionist. Believe it or not, their brains are sharper than you realise. It’s all about changing their mindset.
Read on to get all your questions answered.
How many times a week can I give junk food to my child?
This is the most important question for all mothers. Throughout the school week, ensure they eat healthy foods. Let your kids not take you on a guilt trip and, even if they do, be emotionally strong. Allow them to indulge once a week, if not less.
Have you assigned a ‘Junk Day’?
The idea of a junk day needs to be ingrained in your child’s mind. This is nothing but one day over the weekend when they can indulge in all their cravings. So, every time they ask for unhealthy foods, you remind them of the junk day. Enforce it regularly, so much so that they start craving for junk day rather than junk foods.
Do you teach them about right and wrong foods?
Children expect an answer to all their whys. Give them reasons for not allowing certain foods regularly. For example, sugar loaded foods will cause germs to attack your teeth or chips will cause cough. Most kids enjoy school, so if you explain to them that if they fall sick they might have to miss school, they may understand the point you are making here.
At the same time, explain to them the benefits of fruits and veggies. For example, fruits provide vitamins, which give energy to perform all the activities in school. Reinforce this idea anytime you feel the need to do so.
How much of junk food do you stock at home?
Stocking chips and unhealthy snacks will tempt your children to opt for them at snack time. Make sure you are stocking healthy snacks for children like makhana, khakra, bhel, homemade popcorn and more. Fruit and veggie sticks work as wonderful snacks too. So, out of mind, out of sight will work here.
Are you eating chips and preaching that it’s not healthy?
If you are munching on chips at snack time, do not expect your child to eat a healthy snack. The same rules apply to you parents, too. Follow the same junk day, in order to help your child out of the junk food habit. Be a good role model, they will follow you.
Do you offer rewards to your child?
Give your children love, non-food rewards and gestures of time and care instead of sugar. Rewards can be as simple as stars, smileys, bonus points to books, art supplies and games. You will see them control their craving beautifully with these rewards. And yes, especially when they are able to let go their most favourite food.
Remember the most important fact of all, which is that you are not depriving your child, but giving them the gift of long-lasting health and emotional freedom.
(The writer is a registered dietitian and a certified diabetes educator. She is a practicing Clinical Nutritionist, based out of Mumbai. For more ideas, email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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