Watch Your Child’s Eating Habits

Grandma once said, “Never mind if your kid eats too much. Worry if he doesn't.” And the family took advice to heart, with the children practically growing up in the kitchen.

However recent scientific findings reveal that children on the plump side retain much of their fat cells for life. Thus, hypertension, cardiovascular problems and other obesity-related diseases can be traced to that once cute and fat kid. Grandma wasn’t very right after all.

Overeating cannot be attributed to any one single factor. A child may be either born with an unusually large appetite or simply unhappy, and sees food as an emotional outlet. Whatever the cause, obesity is a very serious problem. This condition must be treated with utmost care for it would affect the child’s future well-being.

Parents could easily say, “Okay let’s put Sonny on a diet.” That’s possible but listen. If millions of supposedly mature adults find it such a struggle to lose a few pounds, what more for a child who just wants to play all day?

What to do

Is your child happy? Since loneliness induces food binges, make sure that your child lives in a harmonious atmosphere. Check for disturbances in his social activities.

Consult your doctor. Any planned dietary shifts for the child should be supervised by your family physician.

Let your child talk to the doctor. A one-on-one chat with his doctor makes a child feel grown up. Consequently, he’d feel confident enough to control the situation.

Eliminate rich desserts. Besides chocolate chip cookies and brownies, there are other equally delicious and far nutritious foods. Include the whole family. Singling out the obese child for serving of “lean” foods may create adverse psychological effects. He may feel mistreated. Tell the whole family of the child’s problem. In no time, everybody would end up eating more nutritiously.

Monitor any weight loss. Nobody should lose more than a pound a week.

When children refuse to eat

Arby is your typical five-year-old with a love for computer games and a fear of imaginary ghosts. Although he looks healthy and plays all day, his eating habits has never been satisfactory. During mealtimes, he either picks his food or ignores it altogether.

Though some children are born with small appetites, poor eating habits can be traced to a child’s psychological framework. Sometimes too much prodding from the parents for the proper food makes the child rebel all the more. Traumatic experiences like the separation of parents, the death of a loved one or even jealousy over a new baby could trigger drastic changes in the appetite.

Parents may find it hard to believe that a child eating poorly is in no real danger. Remarkably, children are born with an instinct telling them the right food they need for normal development. Still, changing a child’s eating habits takes a long time, patience and energy especially on the part of the parent. Inevitably, changes have to start from the parents themselves. Forcing your child would not help. Parents would have to look for a more positive and relaxed alternative. Always remember that the objective is not for the child to eat more but for him to regain his normal appetite.

What to do

Don’t turn the dinner table into a battle ground of wits. A hardheaded child can always outlast a parent in any feeding battle.

Make mealtimes an enjoyable experience for the child. Serve her favorite meals to get her appetite going. Don’t give her foods that she obviously hates. It could only make things worse. Eventually, you can add to her menu as things get better.

Break his suspicion over certain foods. If the child prefers to eat the chocolate cake over the carrots, let him. Eventually, he’d be less suspicious of those creepy carrots and eat them as well.

Serve smaller portions. Large servings will just overwhelm the child. If the meal before her is less than what she normally takes, you’ll be surprised that she’ll actually ask for more. (Wait for her to ask.)

No bribes please! Never lavish the child with praises or small gifts to get him eating. Unconsciously, you are training the child to look forward to the bribes not the food.

Don’t become your child’s slave. Don’t go out of your way unnecessarily to get her to eat. Just because your child likes fried chicken doesn’t mean you have to serve it every day. If you did, the child might feel that your will could be bent for his own purposes.

Health | Diet | Family

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