How I get my child to eat healthy everyday
Motherhood, Recipes

How I Get My Child To Eat Healthy Every Day

India is celebrating National Nutrition Week from 1st to 7th September. The theme this year is Optimal Infant and Young Child Feeding Practices: Better Child Health.

Family health and good nutrition have always been topics that I have deep interest in. Most of my adult life I have strived to maintain a healthy balance between good food and junk food. Since becoming a mother my passion for this subject has only increased. I have spent the first year of my baby’s life researching on what to feed him, how to offer nutrient dense foods and how to implement a system at home where an environment of healthy eating thrives. As a mother to a 18 month old I have found a few systems and tricks to keeping good healthy food available at home and outside regardless of how busy I get. Today I want to share my tips on building a healthy eating envirnoment for your child, and getting your children to eat healthy always.

  • Start with meal planning and abundance of fresh food. This is a no brainer. If you want to inculcate healthy eating you first have to stock up your house with fresh fruits and vegetables. There has to be abundance in order to eat healthy. The more good food there is the lesser the chance of opening packets. Find a weekly home grocery delivery service in your area, it will get you organized as a busy mom. It’s best when you make a meal plan for the week and prep on the weekends. Though I personally can’t stick to meal plans, I am quite creative at coming up with dishes that are healthy with whatever I have in the fridge. If you struggle with meal ideas its best to plan a weekly menu for family, write down a few meal ideas and stick it to your fridge so you know what you are going to prepare during the week.
  • Stock up the house with your child’s favorite staples. These need to be replenished every-time they run out. These are go-to meals you know your child will love. Better homemade food than take-out. My toddler loves : Pastas, quinoa, coconut meat, peas, eggs and avocados. These are all easy meal staples that can be thrown together to make quick combinations of meals. Eg. Avocado and peas quinoa bowl, Pesto Pasta or Tomato Pasta, etc.

How I Get My Child To Eat Healthy Everyday
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  • Vegetables are a must for your kids, they contain many vitamins and minerals that are essential during development. Don’t be afraid to use them in meals. In my experience, I have seen many mothers have a mental block in using vegetables in dishes for fear of rejection and food wastage. Pack vegetables into every dish you can think of. Its ok if they don’t eat it once, consistency helps when it comes to vegetables. Get innovative with the dishes you prepare. Don’t give up easy.
    Eg. Add peas and carrots in upma, pohe, leftover vegetables can be made into a vegetarian patty and served as a snack, buy vegetable pastas, there are many options in the supermarket now – beetroot pasta, spinach pasta. Kids love the colours and get excited about eating them.
  • Every once in a while make new dishes for the family. This keeps the kids interested in meal times. I try to make new recipes once every weekend as a change.
  • Make friends with simple meal ideas or one pot meals for the weekdays. This makes it easy for you as a busy mom. My go-to weeknight recipes are one pot meals like hearty soups, stir fried rice, pots of vegetarian curries served with rice. All these recipes are easy to make, don’t require much cooking skills and are packed with vegetables to up the nutrition content.
  • Always stock the house with super foods like avocados, berries, coconuts, ragi flour, barley grass powder, flaxseed powder, nuts and seeds, sprouted wheat (dalia). Kids benefit from eating these on regular basis. You can incorporate them in a variety of ways in your meals and be assured that your child gets great nutrition from the food too. Here are some easy recipes using these super foods as snacks. I make these when I am running out of ingredients in the house, this way I am still managing to serve healthy options to my little one. That is why its so important to always keep the house stocked with some of these ingredients.

healthy pancake recipe for children
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healthy pancake recipe for children
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healthy pancake recipe for children
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  • Lentils come in many varieties like masoor dal, tur dal, moong dal and are high in protein and fiber. Lentils are an excellent natural source of folate and manganese. If your child is like mine and doesn’t like dal as a dish you can add these lentils to soups or in finger food forms. They enjoy the novelty of these dishes.
  • Healthy fats are important for growing kids. If you are a largely plant based family include avocados, sesame paste, nut butters, nut powders, coconut meat and almond meal in food preparations.
  • Mother’s tend to worry about adequate iron content in their children’s diet and rightfully so. Children with insufficient iron may suffer from cognitive and behavioral development deficits and delays. You can add iron rich foods like meats, legumes, lentils, green leafy vegetables to your child’s everyday diet. Serve iron-rich foods alongside foods containing vitamin C (such as tomatoes, broccoli, oranges, and strawberries). Vitamin C improves the way the body absorbs iron. Eg.
    • Oats porridge with berries or mangoes
    • Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin C – have them along with lentils and quinoa to increase absorption of iron,
    • Squeeze lemon over quinoa salad, rajma (kidney beans) sabzi,
    • Beans cooked in a tomato base or with tomato salsa etc.
  • Be mindful about the sugar consumption of your kids. Even honey and jaggery are considered added sugars. The AHA reccomends limiting the amount of added sugars in the diets of children 2-18 years of age to about 6 teaspoons a day.
    To know more about the effects of exessive sugar consumption in kids read my post on sugar and our children here. Ripened banana and cooked apple sauce are great substitutes for added sugars in dishes like smoothies and pancakes.
  • Model good eating to your children. Eat meals together as a family. Give them more information on how to eat healthy. About the vegetables and fruits they are eating. Get them excited about food.

I hope my tips on serving healthy food to children helps you too. How do you plan and prepare meals for your kids? Do you have some tips for me?

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60 Comments

  1. Vynieann says:

    Great job!

    1. Ophira says:

      Thank-you Vynie!

  2. Sophie Bhastekar says:

    Nice information with receipes.

    1. Ophira says:

      Thank-you 🙂

  3. beautiful. love your simple tips and this is also encouraging of where to start! I’ve been on this journey for a while and honestly just knowing how and where to start is the hardest part.

    1. Ophira says:

      Thank-you Rose, yes getting started is difficult. But once you are in a system its easy to stay on track 🙂

  4. These are all great suggestions! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Ophira says:

      Thank-you Jenny! I hope they help!

  5. Very Simple and nutritious for baby health. You have explained very well here and its great to honor a word for you.
    “When you start your food without label, you no longer needs to count calories”
    Thanks again ophira Lots of love from Ninobambino Keep writing , Keep sharing , keep enjoying !

    1. Ophira says:

      I agree with that line. if you eat home made food its unnecessary to count calories. Thank-you for your appreciation for my content.

  6. Though we don’t have children, I enjoyed your post and will pass on the great advice to young Mums I know. Most of the ingredients are rather expensive downunder and most unfortunately not many young families would use them.

    1. Ophira says:

      Hi Suz, I always promote people use local ingredients that are easily available. I personally use a mix of local and exotic vegetables and fruits. This helps keep my grocery budget in check.I know abroad in States and other countries the situation is now the reverse wherefresh fruits and vegetables are more expensive than a Macdonalds. At such times all we can do is be innovative in our own situations and try and strike a balance. I don’t mean to say a person needs to follow exact foods and ideas I suggest, I wish to get them thinking about health and adapt it to their own life situation. This article is to help raise awareness in rising middle income families here in India, who with more buying power now choose to adopt a more westernised diet ignoring healthier food options for convenience food. I want to show them that they can make easy meals at home with planning and systems in place. Thank-you for your comment. I hope I can help raise awareness about healthy eating habits through this article.

  7. I don’t have kids myself, but I feel like most of these can be used for healthy eating tips for adults as well! Thank you for also including recipes. Those are especially nice to have!

    1. Ophira says:

      Thank-you McKenna, Yes, these are tips I use for the family. it helps keep us on track to eating healthy. though as adults we do cheat at times 😉

  8. I am trying to do better at the food choices I make in hopes to guide my child to make healthier choices! These are great ideas and options for making every meal healthy! Thank you!

    1. Ophira says:

      Thank-you Shelbi, I hope you find your systems at home too. Do share if you have tips of your own.

  9. The Unfiltered Momma says:

    So great! Saving this for when my little is older

    1. Ophira says:

      Thankyou 🙂 I hope these tips help.

  10. These are awesome tips! Definitely plan on trying some of the food you suggest! Thank you so much for sharing these great ideas!

    1. Ophira says:

      Thank-you Erin.

  11. These are some great tips and recipes you have shared. Very helpful post for new mums. Are you present on twitter too? Do checkout my blog here: http://www.digimother.com/

    1. Ophira says:

      Thank-you Neha, I am on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

  12. Amazing post! I think that eating healthy can be a challenge when you are a mom with millions of things to do. This is something I struggle with all the time. I find myself falling into a good routine and then all it takes is one day to break the whole set up. I think that you offer a lot of great ideas to battle this issue. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Ophira says:

      Yes, Laila, I agree there are times we fall off the wagon too. Somewhere as moms prioritising ourselves over everyone else becomes a task of its own. I am finding my rhythm and would love to help other moms get organised too, not just for baby but themselves.

  13. Absolutely loved this article. So glad I came across this! While we practice quite a few of these, picking up a few ideas to implement with my girl. Would love to get ideas on using flaxseed powder.

    1. Ophira says:

      Thank-you Khushboo, I am so glad you liked these ideas and hope you can implement them in your daily meals with family.

  14. Chitra says:

    Very well written, it’s the need of the hour

    1. Ophira says:

      Thank-you Chitra!

  15. This is a wealth of great information, not just for first time moms like me but families in general.

    1. Ophira says:

      Yes Sheri, these are all tips towards healthier family meal times. I am glad you found these useful.

  16. This is such a great article to remember if I ever have kids some day. 🙂

    1. Ophira says:

      Thank-you Stacie!

  17. Hey this is just what i wanted to know. You have shared some great tips and recipes. I’m sure this would make my life easier.

    1. Ophira says:

      Thankyou Preetjyot! I am glad you found this post useful.

  18. My toddler is a picky eater and it may be our fault because we introduced commercial baby food to her before trying out mashed veggies / fruits. Thank you for your tips and recipes! Very informative 🙂

    1. Ophira says:

      I am glad you found this post useful Aya, I hope it helps you build strategies for your little picky eater! The key is consistency, so don’t be afraid of rejection, keep offering healthy food. All the best!

  19. Very informative post. Great work.

    1. Ophira says:

      Thankyou!

  20. My sister in law just yesterday sent me a packet of Ragi flour. I was wondering how to use it and was about to research the internet for the same. But now I am going to try your recipe first and then check the net.

    1. Ophira says:

      Hey thats great Anupriya! The kids love all types of pancakes I am sure your little one will enjoy it 🙂

  21. Wow such a detailed post. All my queries regarding feeding nutitious food are resolved after reading your post. Also I have many new recipes to try out. My daughtefr is a foodie so she enjoys any new type of cuisine and tastes so she will love most of the recipes. I am sure she will love to try the vegetarian coconut curry, even the smoothie recipe is unique.

    1. Ophira says:

      Thank-you Aesha, I am glad you found this post useful 🙂

  22. What a fantastic and resourceful post! Healthy eating is a like skill that must be taught to kids and we as parents really do need to take that more seriously.

    1. Ophira says:

      I agree Manveen 🙂

  23. I love your food posts. Wish i could do half as good a job as you do. Keep this inspiration coming

    1. Ophira says:

      Thank-you Rashmi 🙂

  24. What a stunning post. I loved looking at the pics too. I completely agree, developing healthy habits in a child means there’s plenty of fresh and healthy foods available at home. When we were just a couple there would be days where we would be stocked out and just eat junk. Cannot afford to do that anymore. But the bonus is I feel and look healthier too. Weight gain is also under control.

    1. Ophira says:

      Same here Nayantara, we too had our share of junk filled days as a couple. The kid has got us back on track 🙂 But it helps immensely to have a system and abundance of fresh surplus in the house. Otherwise its back to same old habits 😉

  25. This is an awesome write up, thanks for sharing all the tips here, I have a 20 month old tot and sometimes planning meals really becomes a task, it’s quite difficult to decode their taste buds. I am going to try the recipes you have shared. Thanks again for sharing this Ophira

    1. Ophira says:

      Yes, I agree Neha, they becoming more assertive as they grow. The key is starting young. My son too goes through the ups and downs in terms of favourites. But I keep offering variety and certain foods he doesn’t like consistently. It helps because he gets back to eating the ones he doesn’t enjoy.

  26. I am not much of a cook but I’m really glad I came across your post today. Just from the first point where you said if fresh food is in abundance, you’re less likely to open packets… That really struck me! And every point after that had me taking notes. I’m bookmarking this and will be trying the recipes you shared.

    1. Ophira says:

      Thankyou Shubhreet! I hope it helps. I am not a great cook myself 🙂 you will see a trend in all my tips and recipes towards easy cooking that requires no skills 🙂

  27. What a great article! Moms often worry about kids nutrition and you have solved some queries by sharing some great and healthy ideas.

    1. Ophira says:

      Than-you Deepa 🙂

  28. I love this. I am a Mum of two and I teach meal planning. It’s like you read my mind! Some wonderful ideas here on how to start as you mean to go on.

    1. Ophira says:

      It is so important to get organised before you begin, I am glad you found this information useful Emma.

  29. I love this. I have often wondered if one reason kids sometimes hate vegetables is that their parents don’t like them either and are feeding them out of a sense of duty instead of preparing them in a way that makes them a delicious, normal part of a meal. I think that was the case with my husband….growing up most of the vegetables he ate were frozen bags of mixed veggies boiled and served plain as a side dish. As an adult he has been slowly learning to love veggies…incidentally discovering Indian food has been a big part of that.

    1. Ophira says:

      I agree, it requires a lot of being the role model first. Children are mimicking adults at first, then they catch on to the enthusiasm for vegetables. And the second point you made is also a great observation, food involves our senses and it has to tickle our taste buds for us to like it. Spices help that process. I always try and mix it up when it comes to spices and recipes, because lets face it, even they get bored of being offered the same food everyday.

  30. These are all great tips – starting with keeping the house stocked full of fresh foods! We buy a share of produce from a local farmer every summer, so we know we’ll always have lots of fresh, organic, local, in-season veggies on hand!

  31. These are great. My little ones love smoothies. They think it’s a shake and feel like it’s special. These recipes are good for the whole family, not just kids. Which makes it easier for us. I believe that kids need to eat what parents eat. The best way for them to learn is by imitating our behavior. Rachel from https://www.explorekidtalk.com/

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