Everyday tips I use to stop my children from wasting food
The one thing that has been really bothering me is the way my children have stopped understanding the importance of food.
A couple of days back I took my daughter out on a mother daughter date, as part of our regular ritual. I try to take her out at least once a week, just the two of us, and spend some good bonding time together, doing the usual rounds of bookstores and such, and finally ending the day with a hearty meal.
Of late, the one thing that has been really bothering me is the way my children have stopped understanding the importance of food. Rather, I feel they have not really understood the respect that a plate of food, or each morsel for that matter, deserves.
Growing up with limited means, I can say that I have learned to value what I have. However, the fact that as parents, we do give them exposure to all types of food, and a lot of it, at a very young age, could be one reason why they may have started to take the availability of food for granted.
So this time, even as we were having our meal at a restaurant of her choice, my daughter announced about halfway through the meal that she was full. This, when she wanted to order more food at the start, and I had to tell her to first finish what she ordered and then get more. Of course she couldn’t finish it off, and I had to ask for a takeaway on what remained on the plate – almost half of the meal.
As we came out of the mall, we saw an old woman sitting on the pavement, a young child of about 4 or 5 sitting next to her, barefoot, just a torn pair of trousers, and definitely hungry and very tired. But they were not begging. Without waiting for me to do it, my daughter asked if she could share the food with him. And the moment I began to nod, she went ahead and gave it to the boy. She came back to me, hugged me tight, and said sorry, that she would not waste food again.
I know she means well, but as a parent, I also know that this will soon be forgotten and the usual I-don’t-want-to-finish-my-food routine will start.
So, here are a few things I have started following at home, and it looks that it is working.
1. Limit the amount of food: I realized that when there is less food on the plate, my kids tend to finish it faster and ask for another helping, instead of giving them all of it at once. Maybe this is all about psychology, but when they see less food initially, they want to finish it and have more.
2. Let them feel hungry: I know how so many of you will judge me on this one, I have been judgemental in the past as well. But this time round, I realized that it was actually necessary to let my kids feel what it is to be hungry and not get food. I don’t mean to make them starve, but just let them skip a meal or two and not have anything in between. The next time on, my kids started asking for food themselves, and finished everything that was on the plate. I have to repeat this at least once or twice a week, but it works!
3. Tell them why it’s healthy – My younger one is especially good at understanding and remembering how a certain food helps her. Spinach makes her strong, carrots give her good eyes and almonds give her healthy brain. And even if she may not always be fond of them, she does tend to eat them up and be done with it.
Of course, I also try to include both of them in creating various dishes and eating in a buffet sort of layout, which keeps it interesting for them. Sitting down properly at meal times, eating without distraction and taking the time to appreciate the food and eat it properly are all helping them not to waste food anymore. It is helping us, yes, but I would also love to know how you are teaching your kids not to waste food. Do tell :)
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