Most mothers often complain about their children not eating food well or eating junk food only, refusing to eat certain foods, eating one kind of food or throwing or intentionally dropping food. Do you also feel your child is doing any of above? If your answer is yes then dear mother it’s time to get in action.
Problems associated with improper food habits
It is really important to pay attention towards food habits of children. As kids who are fussy eaters tend to fall sick more frequently and moreover their growth and development also gets affected. Common problems associated with unhealthy food habits are:
1. Food Avoidance or being a picky eater
Once children start going to school they develop new taste, new friends, new eating habits and moreover staying away from parents make them independent. Independent enough to make choices or expressing opinions. You must have noticed this big change. Now what?
Mothers your job has now become more difficult as suddenly you will observe a new picky eating behaviour develops in child. But do you know that by making your child eat by force, they develop this aversion from food and don’t feel like eating that food.
Sometimes giving more attention to their tantrum make them fussy about food. Like if child is saying she doesn’t want to eat then parent swill say ok eat ‘x’, then if she still says no mother will offer ‘y’ dish (favourite dish). Kid sometimes enjoy this attention and start repeating fussiness over food as they will get their favourite.
But do you know sometimes eating this favourite again and again makes them avoiding that favourite too.
Food aversion habits can be of various type and develop due to various reasons. But ultimately this food aversion makes kid prone to risk of undernourishment.
2. Anorexia (under-eating)
In this problem, the child gets hooked with idea of being very afraid of gaining weight and also thinks his or her body is too fat (even if he/she is thin). Some kids start doing extreme dieting and lose a lot of weight by (children not eating enough), and some try to make themselves vomit after eating. Though this is more common in grown up children, but yet the way media and society is influencing, mothers of younger kids also need to be conscious. Children with anorexia generally stay sad, angry, or depressed or feel worried a lot of the time. It’s therefore important to take help from some professional like doctor, therapist, and nutritionist. Secondly family should also team up with medical therapist to help child overcome this disorder.
3. Bulimia (over-eating)
Kids who have bulimia feel that they don’t have control over what they eat or other things in their lives. Over eating can be a way for them to have some control. That means children with this problem eat a huge amount of food, like a tub of ice cream, or a big packet of chips. Sometimes they do feel guilty about this indulgence and try to get rid of it by vomiting. Do you know over-eating could be a sign of depression?
Kids sometimes develop bulimia when something new or stressful enters their life, like shifting to a new school or locality or a parent’s separation. Most of times kids with bulimia are difficult to identify as their weight is often in the healthy range.
So mothers please keep a watch on eating habits of your kids any sudden change in eating habits could be a red alert. Since it is really important that kids have balanced diet, check out following suggestions that might be of some help.
1. Make sure your child is really hungry
For whatever meal you are serving, please ensure appropriate gap has been there since last meal. You may give healthy and digestible snack in between two meals if your child is hungry, like fruit break between breakfast and lunch.
Please avoid giving any sweets, wafers or biscuits for as a snack.
2. Meal time happy family time
Meal time can be happy time for children. First thing is that all family should have a meal together. Turn off TV sets have meal together. Eating together will give chance that kids will see parents enjoying the food. It may take time but most likely your child will try to taste it and eat it as well.
3. Experiment with new recipes
Keep experimenting to introduce new foods like making vegetable sandwiches instead of giving vegetable and chapati or trying new recipes. E.g.- If your child is not eating roti properly you can try making different shapes of roti to make food more appealing like a star shaped roti for your little star.
4. Have realistic expectations
Mothers take a break let child eat themselves, so don’t worry too much about spilling food, or child not eating food properly. Like don’t expect your child to finish his/her plate, it might happen that some days kid would cherish his favourite food and would complete it and someday he/she would merely ignore food. So have patience and let child go even if he/she finishes half of food.
5. Never force feed your child
Don’t feed your child forcibly. If your child is fussing about food, ignore as much as you can. Giving fussy eater lots of attention might encourage children to keep behaving this way. Parents who try to force feed may be leading to a child’s inability to regulate their own hunger and develop an anxiety with meal time. Anxious children may lose their appetite.
The amount of food uptake varies from child to child and from day to day. But mothers you have to keep a watch that their meal size is not declining day by day.
6. Talk to them about food changes
Your children are smart! Talk to them about healthy diet for children. Explain them why you are making the changes in meal. You can explain how much you care for them and are concerned about their growth and wellness. Initially they may not like the changes, but understanding about reasons behind these changes would help them in better adaptation.
7. Have patience in introducing new food
Take a chill pill mothers! You may need to try a new food at least 10 to 15 times before child is willing to eat it. E.g. – My kid didn’t like pulses I kept on trying by using different versions like dal cheela, some days sprouts and so on.
There is no rule book or a permanent solution to such child’s food problems. I have shared tips that have worked for me. Which tips have worked for you? Do write to us and share with us your viewpoints.
So mothers time to go. Bye!! .