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If your toddler won’t eat anything but snacks, you are not alone. A lot of parents are just in the same situation as you. I see a lot of topics on how to break your child’s bad habit of consuming junk food, but hardly any topics to say why your child ended up with junk food in the first place.
Although most parents hate to admit it, the fault actually lies with the parents themselves.
Your child has so many years ahead of him to try all the food in the world, so do not be in a hurry to introduce junk food to him at such an early age. I understand that most working parents are unable to supervise their child full time because of work commitments. Most children these days are taken care either by grandparents, helpers or daycare centres. However, you should not blame it on the caregivers.
If you don’t do it, no one else will do it for you. If your child has started taking unhealthy food, I suggest you start setting some ground rules as soon as possible as it may be an uphill battle if you do it later.
When your child has started eating junk instead of regular meals, it is rather difficult to break that habit but nevertheless, it is doable but you have to be persistent in your execution. What to do when your toddler refuses to eat?
Here are 5 quick solutions:
As Malaysians, we eat 24 hours a day. That I get it. However, that does not mean your child should be doing the same too. Fix your meals to 3 times a day, with no snacks in between if possible. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. No more. No less.
If your child craves for something in between, give him a fruit to munch on like an apple rather than giving him biscuits or crackers in between. For a child who continues to eat throughout the entire day, he will feel satiated all the time. This will definitely decrease his appetite for food. Don’t even talk about healthy food, he will probably have no interest in eating anything.
It is pretty obvious that if your junk food is readily available and visible to your child, he will surely ask for them. We do not even need to talk about children in this context as this also applies to adult. If junk food is right there in front of your face, would you not be tempted to take them and eat? Keep them out of sight is good. However, do not buy junk food is even a better solution. Can you do that?
If your child is facing constipation issues, having him to drink fruit juices for the needed fibre are indeed beneficial. However, this has to be done in moderation.
If your child keeps drinking fruit juices all day long, not only does this contribute to a high-calorie intake but it will fill your child’s stomach very quickly too. With the stomach half full, do you think your child would want to eat any further?
There are other alternatives for fibres that can help with your child’s digestioninstead of relying on fruit juices alone. You may want to look into those.
No ones like to be scolded or forced into doing something. I am sure you do not like that too. If you find that your child is unable to finish off the food, do not force him any further.
Keep the food and attempt again later. Keep the food in the fridge and reheat it later if your child gets hungry. Let him know that you have saved the earlier food and he can have it if he is hungry.
If your child refuses, then let him go to bed with a hungry stomach. A few nights with somewhat an empty stomach won’t starve him. This will teach him to appreciate food and not be picky with the food that has been given to him.
You will be very tempted to bribe your child by offering him something that he likes by getting him to eat his food first. Do not do that. This is not going to help you in the long run and you are cultivating a bad habit in your child. Besides, remember that our aim here is to cut off junk-eating habits. Not reinforcing them. Your child will have the upper later, demanding for junk later before his meal or else he will not eat his normal meals. You are just fighting a losing battle here. Bribing is an easy way out but please avoid it.
The list can be endless since it depends on how you prepare the food. Less salt, less sugar, less oil, less of everything. Anything that is not considered junk is considered good food.
If you have the time, spend the time preparing a simple meal at home. Your child will appreciate it. Given the circumstances that we may not have the time to cook all the time, pick pre-packed healthy food that can be prepared easily for your child. When you scout the net for information about healthy food for toddlers or children, you will see tonnes of recipes on making different types of food.
Let’s make this simple. A general rule of thumb.
As harsh it may sound, you should try to make it happen. It will definitely be beneficial for your child in the long run. You may have the thought of “What’s wrong with taking it once or twice? Pretty sure it doesn’t do much harm!”.
Yes, you are definitely right. Once or twice will not do any harm but are you entirely certain that this will be last of it? There will eventually be a third, fourth, fifth and so on. Will you be able to make your stand when your child cries and whine over the food he wants? Think about it.
To avoid that situation, the best method is to avoid it altogether. Why the hurry? Once your child gets older, he will definitely get his chance to take all these unhealthy food. Your child has to start eating healthily from young.
Let’s face it.
Even some adults do not like to eat vegetables.
If your child refuses to eat fruit and vegetables, then first you’ve got to understand why. From more than a thousand years ago during our ancestors’ time, how can they tell if a food is edible, or not?
If you think about it, sweet food (like fruits and berries) are generally safe to be taken while the bitter and sour ones are linked to the poisonous ones. Since then, this preference for sweet food has been brought down from generation to generation until today. Hence why food like vegetables which are relatively tasteless is not as interesting as the junk ones.
So what we do about it?
Here are a few methods you can use:
The effects are plenty but I’ll list down the 5 important ones:
Junk food contains a lot of unnecessary sugar. And salt too. If your child takes up so much sugar at a given time and is unable to utilise the amount of sugar ingested, where does the sugar go?
The extra sugar will be converted into fats and stored for use later, which will never happen if your child is not the active type and continues with his bad eating habits.
If your child eats lots of junkies, his appetite will always be suppressed and will not be willing to eat his regular meals. With all the instant sugar your child is getting from his regular intake of junk food, the sugar itself is enough to keep him going for the entire day without having a meal.
Ever heard of diabetes, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels? I am sure you have. Do you want your child to have those? I am sure you don’t.
If your child continues on with eating junk food throughout his teenage years and right into adulthood, just imagine all the amount of sugar and fats he has ingested throughout his growing years.
That itself is a recipe for disaster. Therefore, you have to start teaching your child how to eat healthily from young. Just like eliminating a weed, you have to pull it out from the roots. To prevent this from happening, you have to start from the very beginning.
This is downright straightforward and self-explanatory. I don’t think I need to elaborate further on this.
Yes, in a way. I personally do not think this is a detrimental issue as the phase is just temporary. Unless your child is continuously eating junk food, loading himself with a high amount of sugar.
Eating a heavy meal produces the same effect. You will feel sleepy and drowsy. Most of the blood flow has been redirected to your gut to digest the food. During this period, the blood flow towards the brain is minimal thus less oxygen is provided to keep your brain to keep you awake.
The 5 effects mentioned above are the common ones that affect a child. I can go on and on talking about the effects affecting different organs but that will take another whole article to do that. We shall give it a pass on that for now.
Wait. Wait. What about hyperactivity in a child? Does junk food cause that? Good question. Let’s move on to the next segment.
It’s no surprise to hear from parents saying that they do not let their child eat too much sugar at night as it makes their child overactive.
Do you believe it?
Truth is, there is no relationship between sugar intake and hyperactivity in a child. It was a misconception that surfaced over the past number of years and the theory was proven to be false when a study was published in 1995 by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Sugar in the diet, be it junk food or healthy food, does not affect a child’s behaviour. That being said, please do not use this as an excuse to give your child junk food to eat.
Just an interesting fact for you to note. At least you won’t end up giving the wrong advice to others.
In collaboration with Ethissa.
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