As parents, there’s nothing more important than the health of our children. However, sometimes your best efforts can run into resistance.
You might find your child doesn’t care for the foods that fall within an Ayurvedic diet. It’s a common issue for parents who want the whole family to start eating according to Ayurvedic principles.
The key is to help your child understand your intentions. Your child isn’t fighting against the diet, but against the drastic change it represents. Stop fighting them. Remember that any lasting change can only come by personal choice, even in children.
Follow these four tips to help incorporate Ayurvedic dietary habits into your home with as little friction as possible.
1. Respect Your Child’s Individuality
When cultivating an Ayurvedic lifestyle for yourself and your family, it’s important to know everyone’s doshic makeup. You’ll better understand each other and become aware of sensitivities that could impact the goal of better health and happiness.
In general, children display an abundance of Kapha energy during this phase of their life. This has to do with their body’s growth and stabilizing activities. Bones are growing and solidifying, every cell is springing to new life as they make their way toward full maturity.
You will face the Kapha quality of stubbornness and desire for a routine. If you’re new to this kind of diet, remember that your child is too. They’re not choosing this diet, so expect some resistance. Even young children have their own individual expression of divinity.
2. Let Your Child Feel Empowered
Ayurveda is so effective because it’s choice based. Regular meditation and awareness encourages its practitioners to make conscious choices and to decide for themselves what they’ll experience and how. Children don’t have complete freedom to pursue this, no matter how relaxed your parenting style may be. Your job is to encourage positive choices and protect your child from the harsh realities that life can dish out.
If you want your child to adopt these principles you have to allow them to participate. This will be well worth the trouble when you witness your child making good choices on his or her own.
Give your child some choice in what they eat. The more you empower your child, the more these principles will be reinforced. For instance, if you’re providing a proper Ayurvedic meal, all six tastes should be present. Give your child some leeway in deciding the portions of each piece of the meal.
Try not to be forceful about their choices. This is an opportunity for you to show your culinary creativity. In our home, I have made use of herbs and spices to combat this kind of stubbornness. Remember that you can always use herbs in the preparation of your meals in order to incorporate the tastes and nutrition that your child may otherwise reject. Many times, these subtle yet powerful bits of nutrition will go unnoticed.
If you only provide healthy options, then any choice your child makes will be good for them. Even if it isn’t exactly what you want them to eat, it’s okay. It will still be better than the unhealthy alternatives that exist outside your home, and your child will feel like they’re in control.
3. Be Patient
This tip applies to just about any task and activity that involves children. Your dinner table shouldn’t be any different. A little patience can go a long way towards getting the results you want.
Remember, your child is most likely rejecting change and authority, not the food.
Their taste buds will change often. Your child might start off loving fruits and veggies, only to reject them in early adolescence. Forcing your views on your children rarely ends well. Be patient and set the example. Let them see the wonderful colors and smell the exotic aromas in your food. Talk to them about how great you feel after a well-balanced meal.
Don’t do this to entice them, but as a genuine testimony, all while allowing them to eat the same old few things. It won’t take long before they’ll at least want a bite. Once they begin to try new foods, be respectful of their personal “yum and yuck” meter.
4. Don’t Give Up
When you feel like caving, try to remember your reasons for adopting Ayurvedic principles with your child. Ultimately, you want what’s best for them. Follow your intuition, know the personality that you’re caring for, and get a little crafty in the kitchen when you need to. If you stick with it, eventually it will work out.
This shouldn’t be a battle of egos and will. We all come into this world with our own lives to experience, so don’t place too much pressure on yourself or your child.
If you stick to your personal diet and practice, your child will follow suit, even if it’s with their own style.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.