Most moms will say that the best solution to ensuring a balanced and nutritious diet for kids would be to see to it that they have three meals a day, considering that this pattern is a time-honoured tradition, something they can`t go wrong with. But is that really a solution? Wouldn`t it be a better idea to make them have frequent, lighter meals that would be easier to digest and which can be made attractive enough for kids? After all, no one is going to say that missing a meal is a matter of life and death! Surely, nothing horrible is going to happen if the kid is playing a game and has simply forgotten that it is lunch time! What the mother needs is to act with common sense, some flexibility and creativity " which go a long way towards making dinner a pleasant and enjoyable meal to make up for the missed lunch.
How can you make the meal attractive for kids?
Simple. Why don`t you allow them to serve themselves while you supervise to see that they don`t make a mess? They can decide for themselves how much of each dish they would like to have and can always decide on a second helping if they so wish. One such mom, Kala swears by this. I always make my kids serve themselves from the table along with the elders. This way, they are careful that they don`t mess up even while they try to taste everything that has been made," she says.
Insist that they taste whatever you have prepared but never force them to eat it if they do not like it. Thus they get introduced early to a variety of foods and begin to develop a taste and liking for good home-cooked food.
See that you pay attention to the way you present the food. Make it attractive and interesting enough for them to want to taste all the dishes. Some vegetables, for example, can be served with toothpicks stuck in them " try it and see them eat with great gusto!
Consult the kids when you are getting ready a menu for the family dinner. Ask for suggestions on favourite dishes and get them involved right in the planning stage. You can even take them to the market once in a while to make them familiar with the vegetables and groceries available in the stores. Allow them to browse around and ask them questions that make them interested " Should I pick up the beans or the green peas? Which would you prefer to have tonight?" You can also ask them to choose the fruit for the day. Remember that what you choose not to buy, like soft drinks or chips is also important as that would mean the kids cannot snack on them at home.
Never have the TV on during meal times. You have to sacrifice watching your favourite serial and catch up on it at some other time. This way, meals become an important time for the family to be together and have interesting conversations.
As all moms know, it is tough to compete with the glossy ads in magazines and the attractive TV ads that glorify junk food. Remember that most food that is served in restaurants have fat as the main source of calories while they are low in iron, fibre and vitamins So unless you want your kid to be obese and unhealthy, see that their daily diet is nutritious so that they will survive even if they do succumb occasionally to junk food.