Most parents especially mothers feel that their child is not eating enough. When you see your child pushing food around on their plate, complaining they don’t want to eat or asking to be excused before eating anything we are inclined to use one of an innocent phrase like ‘just couple of bites’; ‘one bite of chicken, four bites of peas and then you can be excused’; ‘finish this portion and i will give u a candy treat’; and many more innovations. Forcing kids to eat just doesn’t work but it certainly does invite tantrums, other challenging behaviour and also health issues.
CHILDREN NATURALLY DON’T EAT MUCH
A range of emotions trigger parents during meal times, and while the central part of these emotions is worry, they’ll be hungry. Parents it’s time to stop measuring how much they ate. Little tummies are very intuitive when it comes to hunger as the child can’t stay hungry for long so they will come and fill their tummy as and when needed. Following certain guidelines can help you to maintain healthy eating habits of a child.
WHEN, WHAT AND WHERE
When it comes to meal or snack time as a parent you should keep in mind the three W’s what, when and where. Snacks can be part of your child’s day, just not a food they should munch on all day long.
In a routine of meals you should provide your child a variety of food to maintain nutritional balance (at least 3 meals and 2 snacks). Try to make a child eat whatever is cooked for everyone else in the home along with one of the complimentary food so that they can enjoy their meal. Don’t provide them the facility of short order cook. Give them the choices when they are moody in the meal time or snack time, example: ‘would you like to eat yoghurt and berries or pita chips and hummus? This gives them a little bit of control and still maintains a structure.
Having a small tummy makes them hungry frequently but eating should not be made free for all time. There should be a structured snack and meal time. You should mark the evidence of their timings of getting hungry and accordingly you can schedule the diet for your younger one. The timing structure will help your toddler eat until he/she is comfortably full and develop a healthy appetite for next meals of the day.
Eating atmosphere contributes a lot in child’s eating habit; just so that he/she eats you should not use food as the bribe. ‘Let’s watch Disney and eat the delicious food’; ‘watch rhymes on mobile and eat’; ‘come in verandah and will watch birds and eat’; choose healthy atmosphere which creates interest for them in eating. These eating habits while watching TV, mobile can make your child overeat. Let them have their own space for eating. Rather prefer dining table over others.
Parents should definitely understand that pressurizing a child to eat destroys his/her natural appetite. If your child can maintain this natural sense of eating when he’s hungry and stopping when he’s not, he will be able to maintain his/her routine and accordingly it will determine the quality of food they are eating to suffice their hunger.