Parents have a huge responsibility when it comes to imparting good eating habits
It often happens that children stop eating for no apparent reason. It is a situation that parents find very traumatic and, as usual, they are concerned about the health of their children and do all kinds of strategies, games and tricks, putting their imagination to the limits to try to encourage the child to eat. Here are some tips to motivate children to eat.
You have to know that the nutritional needs of children change throughout their childhood mainly due to changes in their growth and development. And the growth of children is the main factor involved in affecting those needs. It is logical to believe that the faster the child grows, the more food he needs, but this growth in childhood is not always at the same speed.
The growth of a child in the first year of life is much faster than in the age of 2 to 6 years. During the first year of life, the child grows about 20 cm and gains 6-7 kg, and for this reason, the appetite of children between one and a half and 5-7 years can decrease if we compare it with the way they ate before. We eat because we grow, we don’t grow because we eat.
Another factor that can influence is the presence of a disease of this type. If we stop thinking, adults also go through times or situations when our appetite changes and goes down. It’s a temporary situation, which we know will pass in a few days, so we don’t give it excessive importance. The same thing happens to children. When you get out of this situation, you may eat more for a few days to make up for what you lost.
So far we can understand that they are processes that all children can go through, but there is also an exogenous variable to the body: the consumption of highly ecstatic products. As a rule, it is supposed to be 3 to 5 meals a day. Another reason for a child’s lack of appetite is usually the consumption of ultra-processed products that contain a large amount of sugar, fat, and refined flour for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.
If we give a child a glass of milk with sugary cocoa and biscuits for breakfast, and chocolate biscuit-sweetened yogurt for breakfast, then the safest thing is that at mealtime he will not feel hungry. Added to this lack of hunger is that the foods we include in the meal such as vegetables are not as attractive or appetizing as the previous foods. It’s snack time and we serve you a sausage sandwich with bottled juice. What do you think will happen at dinner…?
Hunger, appetite, and satiety in children. What is it all about?
Loss of appetite in children
It is also important to know these terms and know how to differentiate them. Hunger is the need or desire to eat, it is a motive for the organism for its survival. On the other hand, appetite is the feeling of craving for a particular food or food. Satiety is the perception that the human body does not have an immediate need to eat.
We are born with a self-regulatory mechanism of satiety that over time, mainly because of our habits, tends to change. It is very important to keep them intact and to respect the decisions of children so that they learn to recognize the signals of their own bodies.
How can I motivate my child to eat?
Motivating the child to eat
It is very important to consider some places to motivate or encourage children to eat:
1. Provide healthy foods and always have them on hand.
Decrease the supply of sweets, pastries, and sweets and increase healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables.
2. Adapt the amount of food
We cannot expect a child to eat the same amount of food as an adult. Adjust the number of vegetables you serve (they are high in fiber and low in calories), a small portion may be enough to fill you up.
3. Don’t force eat
It is the most important premise. Always offer healthy foods, but don’t force them to eat them. If a child is on hand, they will make a move to try it out at some point. If you eat and don’t want more, respect your decision to keep your satiety mechanisms intact.
4. Do not offer unhealthy products as a reward
If we blackmail children with healthy foods and ultra-processed products, they will see the latter as the good foods and the healthy foods as the bad ones.
5. Introduce new or liked foods in small quantities
It can also be combined with your favorite dishes or create very attractive and visual dishes. If he refuses to give it a try, don’t give up and keep offering it to him.
6. Involve them in preparing meals
This will make them feel like they are trying new foods and make mealtime more fun and engaging.
7. Be a role model and eat healthily
Children learn by imitating their closest environment. If they see you are eating vegetables, they will! And if you drink sugar, they will too! In your hand is a great responsibility.
8. Eating as a family
It should be a pleasant moment, without haste or distraction (TV, mobile phones, tablets, …) a moment of the day to talk about what happened to us throughout the day and to communicate good habits.
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