How does a parent ensure that her child, who is a picky eater, gets enough nutrition?
First find out why your child is a picky eater. Is it because he doesn’t have an appetite, or because he does not like what you are giving him? Are you giving him enough variety and choices? Parents have to take time to understand what healthy food their child enjoys. Try enhancing vegetables and fruit flavours in different ways, through soups, vegetable juices, fruit milkshakes, fruit salads, stir-fired with cheese. We must understand and deliver their choices patiently, WHERE NECESSARY. Reinvent your cooking but do maintain a sense of balance between delivering your child’s food choices and getting him to eat within the family culture.
Some children will eat in smaller quantities but frequently, some in larger quantities but only three to four times a day. Understand these basic aspects first. Keep a tab on his height and weight – if these figures are within the normal range for his age, (and remember, ‘normal’ can be a different number for every child!), there is not much to worry about.
Of course, there are some children who will eat less no matter what you do! But, only 5% of children will not eat anything despite your best efforts. If your child falls in this category, just to be on the safe side, do consult a paediatrician or nutritionist.If a child suffers from childhood obesity, what can a parent do to regulate her diet? Again, pause to consider why he is obese – maybe he is eating too much processed food, or too much sugar or salt? Stay away from food products that are high in salt, fats or sugar. And make sure that your child understands this too. Just as you educate yourself, educate your child as well.In India, we feed children a lot of ghee, and high fat and sugar foods, to make hem ‘healthy’ and chubby. This, however, will only kick off health problems for your child at a young age. It is essential that we feed our children right when they are very oung so that their eating practices are set right, and the rate of increase in fat cells is also controlled (which happens until the age of five). An overweight child will, in all probability, carry these attributes into his adult life.
Another typical problem that arises in joint families is that some grandparents tend to overindulge children with sugar-laden foods — chocolates, sweets, and biscuits. Mothers may not like this, but will remain silent out of respect. You have to get the older generation to understand why you don’t want the children to be overindulged. If they still don’t understand, be firm about your rules with the children – remember, you are doing this for your children.While regulating the diet of your child, be careful about how you go about it. You don’t want to hurt his self-esteem! First try to prevent obesity by not over feeding your child; if he is obese, then try and understand where the problems are and work on them together with the child. Never use confidence demeaning statements like ‘you’re so fat’ and ‘you can’t run around with all that weight’ or ‘you’re so different from your sister’. If you think the problem is too big for you to handle and you need professional help from a counsellor or doctor or nutritionist, go ahead and get this help – the sooner the better.