Nutrition For Children
Food holds many associations for children. What are the correct nutrition concepts to pass on to children to encourage development of sensible eating life styles.
By the age of 4, a child begins to associate special foods to special people or events in his life. He knows he gets to eat birthday cakes on anybody's birthday and special Christmas food during Christmas. Parents should not use food as a battle ground. Don't use food to reward or punish. It teaches the child the wrong concepts about food and eating whenever he does something good or bad. He should be gaining his sense of accomplishment and self-esteem instead of using food as a measure of his success.
Food shouldn't be used as a source of distraction to free the parent for other chores. Snacking just to keep the child busy is bad. This develops into mindless eating and overweight children. Food shouldn't be used as a "de-stresser" by giving comfort or consolation to the child. This creates the habit of using food as a consolation and produces overweight kids, too. Troubled kids may hide behind food instead of confronting the problem at hand.
Teaching sensible eating is important. This is preventive medicine. Children don't learn by dieting. In fact, they may over-diet in their zealous desire to gain approval from parents and other adults. This will create eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia nervosa. To substitute for dieting, reduce the amount of fat in the menu. Introduce more physical activities that are fun for kids to help them enjoy exercise. They will burn off the excess calories and learn to be independent with practical skills.
When the child approaches the age range of 8-12 years old, he learns that his food will make him energetic or sick. This is the age of their " food wisdom". The child refrains from over-eating for the fear of falling ill. This is the time to teach children to be responsible for their health in their choices of food.
Instead of using food as an issue, parents can engage the child in some calorie burning activity. Kids love outdoor play and any activity in the open will keep them happy and occupied.
Don't force the child to eat large portions. It trains him to become a compulsive eater. Don't forbid fast foods entirely either. It encourages them to deceive you to get the junk food.
Sensible eating in children is the core to developing sensible eating in adults.