Children’s eating habits

How to deal with fussy and erratic caters


Your child will imitate you’re eating habits, along with your like and dislikes This may seem an obvious point to make, but many parents try to force their children to cat things they don’t actually eat themselves. According to some recent research a child may even develop a penchant for certain types of food while still in the womb. As they saw older children tend to veer towards the foods their mothers are, whether this be chocolate ice cream or a spicy curry!

Another common problem is the child who just won’t sit still to cat – again, they are only mimicking mum, who nibbles at her food while she is doing something else. Many children have erratic eating habits: they eat very little on occasions and then make up for it later. Some children develop a pattern of just having one meal when they really seem to tuck in commonly breakfast, while at other meal times they hardly bother to cat, Other children develop fads such as eating only jam sandwiches, which can drive their parents mad as they battle to make their diet more varied.

The best way to deal with any such fad is to ignore it. If you make a fuss the child will associate food with conflict meal times can become a war zone and children may develop a lifelong dislike of certain foods. Try to keep things in perspective. If your child is happy and healthy, let the issue of their eating habits sit on the back burner. On the other hand, if they are not growing or are often unwell you should seek the help of your doctor or dietitian.

Establishing good eating habits within a young family

Sit down to eat with your children whenever possible. Even if you want to eat your main meal with your partner later, sit and have a drink, a piece of fruit or a bowl of soup.

 Eat slowly. Rushed children frequently become obese adults, who don’t notice what they eat. Rushing their meals can also set them up to develop stress-induced indigestion in their twenties

 Eat a varied diet. If you serve the same things every day, boredom will set in and children will not learn to enjoy their food. A variety of foods is also more likely to fulfil your family’s nutritional needs

 . Use convenience foods wisely. Don’t dismiss all tinned and frozen foods and packets as nutritionally inferior to fresh. It’s much more important for you to be relaxed at the meal tale than to turn the whole thing into a military exercise, ending with you sitting down exhausted, having done your culinary duty with careful shopping you can build up a store of nutritious convenience foods, such as canned pulses, pizza bases, and frozen vegetables.

• Try to get into the habit of cooking more than one meal’s worth at a time and freezing the rest for another day. For the same amount of effort, you could cook two large pies – and just think of the time it will save. Remember to make food fun. Learning about food is a valuable activity, so encourage your child to spend time with you while you’re cooking 

• Spend time with your child when you go shopping Knowing where produce comes from is a very important tool in food appreciation – a little enthusiasm from you will rub off on your child. Herb gardens and markets are good places to start. but even if you can only get to supermarkets, talk to your child about the different foods and their seasonality. Some scientists believe that if you eat foods in season throughout the year you will have a good cycle of nutrient intakes Looking forward to the first new potatoes of spring.

I’m sure, makes them taste far better than they would at any other time of the year. I remember my father proudly presenting his first crop of runner beans at the Sunday lunch table the only problem was that there was only half a dozen of them! • Eat your meals without any distractions. This will allow children to concentrate on the flavors and foods, as well as relax and communicate Switch off the TV and switch on to the meal 

• Try not to give the impression that the dessert is the best part of the meal something to be enjoyed after forcing down the savories and vegetables the relationship between food and reward does not have to be sweet based.

Children and their weight 

The most important thing in this weight-obsessed society of ours is not to over play the issue with children. The more fuss you make the more problem Chewy will have, and they will either eat even more or they will go the other way down the road to anorexia Remember that all children have some puppy fat and you should let them grow into their height. If your child is growing proportionately in height and weight it is unlikely that there is a real problem.

They will find the right time in their lives to tackle their appearance Your doctor or practice nurse will have growth charts to check whether your child is the correct weight for his height, or whether he is carrying too little or much weight If there is a problem think about the weight you were as a child and relate it to the current situation.

For example, some ex-anorexic mothers, who recognize and exaggerate the link between food and affection, overcompensate for denying themselves the delights of food by overfeeding their child, Conversely, a parent who had problems as a slightly overweight child may force their own child to become obsessed with calories and their body shape.

What to do if a child is not eating much at the meal table

• Check that they are not filling up with drink Children frequently prefer to drink rather than eat Changing from bottle to a beaker can help, as it is slightly more difficult to manage.

Ideally leave a least an hour after a drink before starting to eat, then encourage children to have a few sips of drink at the end of the meal. • Introduce unfamiliar foods without comment. A little quip about a food being something they’ve not had before can prompt children to say they don’t like it even before they’ve tried it. Introduce new foods within familiar dishes such as spinach in a soup or   a laver lasagna.

• Use the same technique when they leave something on their plate, saying that they don’t like it. Without comment, try it again a few days later served in a different way: carrots could be cooked or raw, cut into rounds: sticks or dice pureed or served in a sauce in • Use different textures in foods. For instance, if you are encouraging children to have a little bit of meat and you know that they don’t like the texture or the look of it, make it into a pate.

Liver pates are an excellent source of iron for children, which is useful if they are anemic, making lean minced meat into sausages with different herbs and spices is another way to make meat more tempting, and children can help with mixing and shaping Try to avoid snacking between meals. Even if a child hasn’t eaten much at the table, don’t feel that you need to give him or her a snack, this can lead to erratic eating patterns and manipulation by the child. They will learn that they can fill the hungry space at the next meal time just remember to make it good, nutritious meal. Encourage your relatives and nannies to do the same. so that the child knows where they stand.

• Conjure up novel ways of eating Arrange theme meals and picnics, even if they take place on the kitchen floor or in the back garden 

• Involve your child in the preparation of the meal. However small them involve mint; it can help them feel like eating more. Even setting the table can act as an appetizer (or so my father often told me!), or doing the washing up. It’s strange that we really look forward to splashing these dishes in the water a child and then spend the rest of our lives trying to avoid it.

What to do if your child is overweight 

Whatever you do, do not put your child on a restricted diet.

It is vital that they eat a variety of healthy foods to provide plenty of calcium, protein, iron and all the other essential nutrients. A well-balanced diet, a healthy lifestyle and a positive relationship with food are the best gifts you can give your child. If you are worried or your child is uncomfortable with their weight, read the chapter on Achieving your ideal weight. Remember that a high fiber diet gives a great deal of satiety – in other words a full and contented feeling 

• Look at the eating habits of the whole family. I suggest that you organize a family health day to see whether there are changes you can all make that will not only help your child to find their right weight, but also encourage the family to eat more healthily.• Make main meals detritus, fun and nourishing. Your child should not feel hungry, and neither physically nor psychologically deprived between meals. 

• Choose a high fiber breakfast cereal, rather than the sugar-coated ones.

• Ent plenty of vegetables and fruits. including spectral fruits such as littler , allices of mango, papaya and kiwi fruits. Add fruits or fruit purée to breakfast cereals, serve fruit on sticks. Vegetables can be tucked into plus, or made into soups or purees of different colors. High fiber jacket potatoes can be served with all manner of fillings, instead of always having chips or other fried potato dirties 

• Choose a variety of breads, mainly whole meal but also including alive fruit and tomato breads watching the nut varieties with young children). But don’t fill your child up with whole meal bread: white bread can also be part of a healthy diet as it is often fortified with calcium. 

• Her desserts as a treat rather than the norm. Resist giving high sugar biscuits and cakes and choose fruit-based desserts rather than cream. pastry or sponge-based puddings. Make your own cakes and biscuits using whole meal flour, cats and other high-fiber ingredients such as dried fruit.

Provide healthy school snacks 

Children are frequently expected to take a snack for the break time, so don’t let your child feel left out. But instead of sweets or crisps pack a yoghurt,

some fresh fruit or a high-fiber patty biscuit like apple flapjacks These are higher in calories than fruit but they are also high in filling fiber, therefore the likelihood is that the child worried as much to eat at the following meal Crisps, even 25% less fat types, are high in fat and don’t contain much fiber therefore they don’t fill you up for very long.

However, since most children love them, remember that it is the overall picture of a healthier way of eating and more exercise that will help your child lose weight, not filling them (excuse the pun) with fears over an occasional packet of crisps. 

Try different forms of exercise 

These could be as simple as walking to school.

It’s all too easy to pop along in the car but a little time invested in walking to school can provide exercise for both you and your child, and can also give you time together noticing objects smells and sounds that go unnoticed when travelling by car. Overweight children often feel embarrassed and self-conscious taking part in sports and games sessions at school, so try to find a form of exercise that they enjoy.

Take them swimming, or for long wall at weekends. Encourage them to do something active rather than watching television or playing with computers for prolonged periods Keep the emphasis away from food, explaining that exercise will help them get! fitter, making it easier for them to run without feeling out of breath. Above all, try not to make them feel different in a negative way, either at home or school.