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‘Is my child eating enough?’ is one of the most common concerns of parents. But there is one thing that we, as parents, are doing wrong that messes with a child’s appetite – we stress too much on quantity rather than quality. Moreover, overfeeding is a norm in most Indian homes and is one of the most satisfying parenting goals. So if you are one of those parents who can relate to this then don’t complain about your child being a fussy eater. You are responsible in a big way in killing your child’s appetite and making her fuss over food during meal times. If you are wondering where you have gone wrong, here are some blunders you need to avoid:
Mistake 1: Allowing snacking in-between meals
If you think that having few cookies, a small bar of chocolate or an ice-cream during the evening stroll is not going to harm your child’s appetite during dinner, think again. You have already fed your child junk which is usually high in calories and is not easy to digest. So, this can make your child feel full and refuse to have anything more than three or four morsels of food during mealtime. Remember, allowing kids to have calorie dense snacks right before mealtime is a big appetite killer. ‘A child’s calorie intake is lesser than an adult. If a 10-year-old needs just little over 1000 calories a day and 300 to 400 calories are coming from junk food at snack time in form of biscuits, chips and chocolates, it is obvious that a child’s intake of food during mealtime is going to go down,’ says Dr Atish Laddad, Founder The Pediatric Network, Mumbai. Here are 12 superfoods that boost immunity in children.
Mistake 2: Overfeeding kids during mealtimes
After untimely snacking overfeeding is the next worst mistake. Most mothers don’t think about portion control or moderation when it comes to feeding their apple of the eye. Even if you are offering home-cooked, well-balanced meal to your child, overfeeding leads to an overload of calories making your child’s metabolism sluggish leading to bloating, fullness and lack of appetite. Your kid might not be hungry during the next meal if she is overfed. ‘Mothers, mostly of infants and toddlers overfeed them during a nursing session or give them the bottle with formula between meals thinking the child should be well fed enough throughout the day. This is where they end up doing the mistake, this makes the child refuse food during mealtime,’ says Dr Laddad. Here are five ways to deal with a fussy eater.
Mistake 3: Not spacing the meals properly
‘The correct meal plan for a child should comprise of three main meals and two snacks throughout the day. If you are giving your child a heavy snack before lunchtime or dinnertime, it is going to take time for your child’s system to digest the same and make her feel hungry during mealtime. So, get disciplined when it comes to feeding your child. Offer foods that are time appropriate to help your child digest them and eat properly at the table,’ says Dr Laddad. For instance, avoid giving your child a fruit or milkshake just before the main meal because it is a healthy option. There should always be a gap of at least three hours between each meal. This will help your child’s system to digest food and make her hungry enough to gorge on the healthy food during the next meal. Here are some expert tips to deal with childhood obesity.
Mistake 4: Falling for the ‘healthy food’ labels without reading them correctly
‘Anything that is not cooked in the kitchen is not healthy. If you are giving your child fruit juices, processed foods thinking it will at least keep her full and provide the promised nutrition, you are mistaken. Know to read the labels carefully to understand how much nutrition you are giving your child through these processed foods and the juices,’ says Dr Laddad. Usually, most processed foods are loaded with sugar which can exceed the child’s daily caloric intake and make one sluggish and lethargic. This also kills appetite in children and they fail to get the right nutrition from healthy foods.
Mistake 5: Not having fixed meal times
One of the biggest mistakes is not adhering to fixed mealtimes. If you make your child have her breakfast, lunch and dinner at the specific time, without giving her calorie-rich foods in between, the digestive system becomes attuned to these times and keeps the hunger-satiety cycle in sync. Having meals at different times is what upsets the metabolism, makes for a sluggish digestion and suppresses hunger during mealtimes in kids.