October 22, 2020
  • October 22, 2020

Gift your child the secret to lifelong healthy eating

By on December 13, 2019 0 213 Views

Adequate variety of food provides not only the energy but also the nutrients which are essential for a child’s growth and development. In regards to children, food preferences continue to change starting from childhood because of the impact of the biological, environmental and social factors. These food preferences eventually form a part of their daily diet thereby influencing their health in the future.

Usually, the parents’ increased dependency over take-away and fast food meals is also a reflection of their own educational background and
socioeconomic status.

The influence of the media, especially TV food advertisements, has a big impact on growing children as well as adolescents. Advertisements help in developing food-related knowledge, attitudes, and preferences. There is concrete evidence proving that TV advertisements lead to increased snacking on energy-dense food and reduced nutritious food consumption.

The habit of eating in front of the TV also leads to overeating in children with increased risk for developing obesity.

As you can see, these factors are interrelated and they influence the dietary habits of people starting from their childhood. The practice of eating everything in moderation through control is better than restricting or eliminating a specific food item.

The family system plays a very important role in establishing good habits, attitudes and contributes to the overall development of a child’s personality.

Tips for Improving the Child’s Eating Behavior

  1. Expose the child to a variety of foods since infancy.
  2. Encourage the child to try new foods and serve moderate portions.
  3. As parents avoid expressing your dislike of foods in front of the child.
  4. Allow the child to express their opinion about food choices.
  5. Avoid usage of food rewards as it leads to more junk food consumption.
  6. Encourage more family meals.
  7. Avoid watching TV, phones while eating.
  8. Get adequate sleep.
  9. Purchase healthy foods when shopping together for groceries.
  10. Some parental control is important to avoid excessive snacking.

In today’s obesogenic environment, “My child is a very picky eater” is a common dialogue exchange heard between parents. The child’s circle of influence in relation to eating includes –parents, society, media, their socio-economic status and the type of food offered to them. Various research studies have shown how these factors influence each other.

Scientific studies indicate that the most common reason given for accepting the food given to them for boys is good taste and for girls’ curiosity, whereas the most common reasons for dislike are – bad taste, texture, appearance, and bad smell. Parents, who are the primary caregivers, help in forming children’s foremost attitude towards food and thereby affecting their preferences.

During childhood using overt strategies like restrictive and pressure eating can result in the child being fussy on the table, poor variety in diet and increased obesity risk. Which parent is with the child also has an impact on their eating habits.

Research studies reported that fathers seldom monitor the child’s food intake and while eating out with the father children tend to eat more processed foods and consume sugar-laden drinks.

Mothers are a big influence during mealtimes, as they understand the eating behaviour of their children and can alter feeding behaviour, and meals if the child is obese or undernourished.

Home is the place where WE ALL have access to a variety of food – healthy and unhealthy. The idea of eating together at home as a family not only increases the interactions among the family members but also allows sharing of opinions about food and eating. Research studies have
shown that children who eat the same food as their parents develop healthy eating practices like eating more home cooked meals, not skipping breakfast and consuming more fruits and vegetables.

But eventually, it also depends upon the eating habits of parents themselves. If parents depend upon take-away or fast food items, the nutrient intake of the child will be inadequate and they will develop unhealthy habits.

By Sonali Kaul
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