Children and Vegetarianism
If you yourself are a vegetarian for any reason, it is only natural that you would have questions about extending your eating choices to your children. Kids are picky eaters. I've never met one that would eat anything given to them, with no questions asked. Vegetables are particularly difficult to get into little mouths. Because vegetables are so essential to growth and development, you must find some way to get your kids to eat them. If you are prescribing an entirely vegetarian meal to your child, you will need to persuade him to eat an even wider variety of vegetables and other foods he may rather avoid. It is possible to nutritiously raise a child as a vegetarian, but there are some things to keep in mind in order to maintain good health and appropriate growth.
Milk Does Little Bodies Good
Infants live solely on breast milk or infant formula for the first several months of their lives. Milk is designed to contain every nutrient that a growing baby needs. Human milk is best for new babies because it is made for them. When a child reaches one year of age, human milk becomes a less convenient option. Cow milk can be easily substituted though. It is no longer enough for your child to be sustained on milk, but it can be a valuable part of their diets. Milk is a great source of protein, vitamins and calcium. If at all possible, offer your child cow milk, goat milk or soy milk with meals and regularly throughout the day.
Try, Try Again
Children often have difficulties adjusting to new foods. It may take several attempts to get them to eat something you have not offered regularly in the past. The best way to get your child to eat balanced vegetarian meals is to keep trying to offer nutritious foods. Even if they reject them several times in a row, they may just surprise you one day by eating and enjoying something they would never swallow before. As you continually offer foods, make sure to also offer a variety of foods. If your child will not eat broccoli, for example, but will eat green beans, offer them side by side. Also, include several other vegetable, bean, cheese and fruit options. The more choices your child has to pick from at each meal, the more likely it is that he will eat enough and enough variety to help him grow normally.
Do Not Exercise Force
By making your child sit at the table until he has finished everything on his plate will not set the stage for good eating habits in the future. He will have negative memories of dinner time and especially whatever food he would rather not eat. The method of force will not improve your child's overall understanding of healthy eating. Encourage your child to at least try each food item you offer, but do not make him eat after he says he is full or finished.
You may be concerned about feeding your child a vegetarian diet and maintaining good nutrition. There are some concerns that you should have, such as making sure that you are offering the correct balance of nutrition. If you have a good understanding of nutrition though, all you need to do is offer a variety of nutritious foods. Your child will eat when he is hungry. Balanced nutrition is possible on a vegetarian diet, so as long as you eat nutritiously, don't be afraid to let your child mimic your own eating habits.
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