April 16, 2009
Kid not eating veg? Blame mum
As kids model their parents, it is likely the adults have not been setting a good example if kids are not keen on eating their greens. JUNE CHEONG reports
Parents, eat your greens if you want Junior to eat his too. 'Young children are out to learn. They observe what their parents eat and want to imitate that.
'Parents are therefore excellent role models and when they eat their greens, their kids are keen to do so too,' said
Ms Lee Hee Hoon, senior manager in Nutrition & Dietetics at Mount Alvernia Hospital.
Ms Ang Bixia, a dietitian at KK Women's And Children's Hospital, added: 'If the child is especially picky, parents can make eating vegetables attractive by cutting them into interesting shapes and serving them with nutritious dips like yogurt or cottage cheese.
'Another trick is to hide the vegetables in sandwiches or add vegetables to foods like meatballs, pizza, spaghetti, fried rice or noodles.'
Parents have an enormous influence over their young child's dietary habits and they should exercise this power to create healthy eating preferences in their child.
Ms Lee said: 'Habits, likes and dislikes are established in the early years.
'Parents' food attitudes are strong predictors of their children's eating habits. Young children do not have the innate ability to choose a balanced, nutritious diet. They develop healthy eating habits only when presented with nutritious foods.'
So if your child is hooked on fast food and clamours for fried chicken when presented with steamed tofu, you know it is because you have not been setting a good example.
You can remedy the situation by setting out healthy eating rules like serving meals at regular times and opting for healthier food options when dining out.
A healthy, well-balanced meal for a child should include foods from the various food groups in the correct proportions.
A child between one and two years old should have two to three servings of foods like rice, noodles or cereal, half to one serving of fruit, half a serving of vegetables, half a serving from the meat and alternatives food group (like fish, meat and eggs) and 750ml of milk per day.
A child between three and six years old needs three to four servings of foods like rice, noodles or cereal, one serving of fruit, one serving of vegetables, one serving from the meat and alternatives food group and 500ml of milk each day.
Parents can introduce solid foods into a child's diet after he reaches six months of age.
Ms Ang said: 'By introducing foods of varying textures and consistencies gradually, your child will learn to bite and chew and this will in turn encourage speech development.'
Asked if supplements are beneficial to children, Ms Lee said: 'Supplements have a role only when the child's diet is deficient in that nutrient. This may be the case for children with prolonged poor appetite, those who are vegetarian or children with a specific disease and a need for a particular nutrient.
'Supplements are not meant to replace meals,' she said.
A child between three and six years old needs 1 serving each of fruit and vegetables per day