Nowadays, children are fascinated by the developing world and modern food habits. They prefer to have a packet of chips, with a cold drink and pastry instead of chapatti with a curry. They are not aware of the harmful effects of fast food on health, which is necessary to stop eating junk food as much as possible. It is better if one could cultivate a healthy eating habit from a very young age. Parents play an important role in imbibing the right childhood eating habits that also include eating junk food in less quantities.
Here are a few tips on teaching children how to avoid junk food everyday:
Explain! Do not scold
No one in the world improves through physical or verbal abuse. They benefit from being shown the right way to act.
Practice the principle of limits with junk food for kids
You may limit the unhealthy items to be once a day or once a week. Or eat a fruit or salad before eating junk food or go for a one-hour active sport/gym/jog/dance/voluntary work. Appreciate your child when s/he takes small steps towards this.
Do not stuff your house with junk food
We say children eat too much junk. But would you resist eating your favorite chocolate if it’s in front of you? No isn’t it! So first make sure you don’t buy and stuff your house with sugar and fat rich food. Resist the urge to buy such bulk offer unhealthy food and buy alternate healthy food. Any change is painful - especially the first step, but once the purpose is clear it will be less painful.
Sweets have an adverse effect on children
Let’s see what Param Pujya Dadashri says about sweets:
Questioner: Is it all right to feed magas (a heavy and rich sweetmeat made with a lot of ghee) to the children?
Dadashri: No, you should not feed magas to children. Magas or any such heavily fat-laden sweets cannot be given to the children. Children’s diets should be kept simple. Even their milk intake should be limited. People keep stuffing their children with dairy products. Such foods promote passion and excitement in children. Even at the age of twelve, a child will begin to have sexual thoughts. You should give your child the kind of diet that will decrease such hyperactivity. Children have no idea about all this. They do not have any awareness of how to live life at all.
Questioner: This view itself is wrong, ‘How can I make my child fit and healthy?’
Dadashri: People do not have any clue as to how to nurse and raise a child. As a result, they cause more harm while raising a child. People understand only the physical liability (liability of the body). This is a nursery!! You will not find such talk anywhere, not in the scriptures, not in books or not in the minds. This is an art. It is an amazing art; it is a new science. A child should be made wise. One without any provocation, how wonderful! How can you look for values in a child and no provocation both, when you give rise to his provocation by feeding him food of provocation? Feed him a simple meal like daal (lentil soup), rice, vegetables; it is a wonderful diet, there is nothing wrong in that.
Give him other tasty food
Give the child some home-made food, which is made up of less oil and less sugar. Try out varieties of tasty dishes so that he finds taste only in this food and gets tired of any other food. Give him the best quality of food. Give him such wonderful food that he only thinks about eating that kind of food. He will then not like and avoid junk food. This is perhaps the easiest key to guide kids on how to stop eating junk food.
Children mimic parents conduct. Get the right understanding of the right food to eat, because the food you eat has a direct effect on the way you think and in turn the way you behave. Let us understand the beneficial-harmful diet, as per the spiritual perspective.
With this knowledge, parents can gradually start taking saatvik (virtuous) food so that children not only know how to stop eating junk food but also admire your values and become like you.