- Samriddhi Manral
A Perfect Plate for your Pre-Schooler, Picky Eater
Pre-School generally belongs to the age group of 2-5 years. This period is very important as they embark on a journey from toddler to elementary school years. This phase is important for physical, motor, emotional, intellectual, cognitive and social development of an individual. These children are still discovering their surroundings and need a constant adult supervision.
A greater prevalence of obesity in childhood is generally caused due to changes in lifestyle. Prolonged digital exposure has led to reduced physical activity. Greater consumption of processed food adds to the problem. Preschoolers become more susceptible to deficiency of micro and macro nutrients like Vitamin-A deficiency, iodine Deficiency and Protein Energy Malnutrition.
This is because Pre-Schoolers are generally picky eaters, so many times feeding them becomes a task for the caregiver. Therefore it is essential to keep in mind the following tips while feeding them:
1. Avoid too large serving size!
Since the stomach of Pre-Schoolers are very small, it becomes essential to ensure that you don't give the child too large of a serving. It is often helpful to give a second serving instead, to avoid the food spillage.
2. Focus on calorie dense and nutrient dense foods
Since they have a smaller stomach size as compared to an adolescent, it becomes important to make the food preparations dense in calories as well as nutrient dense. Foods rich in micronutrients should be included to avoid the micronutrient deficiency. Fresh Fruits and vegetables should be included.
3. Provide Family Foods to the pre-schooler
As it is a very critical stage of developing habits, preferences, likes and dislikes. Therefore it becomes essential to introduce food from the family pot like pulses, cereals and vegetables, so that they become acquainted with the food they eat.
4. Follow the routine
It is very important to introduce a sense of time in the child at this stage. So proper eating schedule should be made and followed. Family eating time often incorporates good eating behavior among the pre-schoolers.
5. Avoid external noise while eating
Another thing, that should be kept in mind while feeding a pre-schooler is to avoid any kind of external noise or disturbance that could affect the process of eating mindfully. Hence, televisions, radios or any other gadgets should be kept off while eating the food.
6. Finger foods make feeding Fuss-free!
The food given to the pre-schooler should be easy to handle and fuss free to eat. Hence it should be in the form of finger foods like nuggets, tikkis, balls, sandwiches, rolls, etc. should be given to them as they are always in a hurry and keep moving around the house.
7. Food that looks good, tastes good
It is the responsibility of the caregiver, to make the food preparation look attractive as the food that looks interesting is very well accepted by the Child. Therefore, efforts should be made to include different colors naturally in the form of various fruits and vegetables. Also, incorporating different shapes makes the food interesting and is well accepted by the child.
8. Breakfast is a Must!
At this stage, generally habits are developed in children. So, a habit of eating breakfast in the morning should be inculcated among the Pre-Schoolers.
9. Feeding should be Fun!
The process of eating for the Pre-Schoolers should be active, playful and interesting. Therefore, force feeding to the child must be avoided to create a positive environment around the child while eating.
10. Tiffin for the win!
Pre-Schoolers go to play-way or kindergarten, it is essential for them to carry tiffin boxes with nutritious snacks in it, which they can eat during the lunch break.
11. Advice for the Picky Eaters
If the child dislikes a particular food like any green leafy vegetable, then it should be incorporated in a disguised manner like kneading the greens in a dough in order to increase the acceptability. Another method could be to introduce the disliked food to the child in small quantities during the family eating time. When the child sees the other family members eating the same food, he/she has better acceptability of the disliked food than before.
12. Say No to processed foods rich in Fat, Sugar and Salt
Processed foods high in added fat, sugar and salt should be discouraged for consumption among the Pre-Schoolers. Instead naturally occurring sweeteners in the form of fruits should be incorporated to make nutritious snacks which are home based like smoothies, milkshakes, puddings, etc. Whole fruits should be given instead of packaged fruit juices with added sugar or carbonated beverages.