How to Prevent Dietary Problems in Children
Parents are often concerned about not knowing how to prevent dietary problems in their children. As they get older, kids become more demanding at mealtime. Sometimes, it might even feel like they don’t like to eat anything at all.
Options become quite limited when children are picky eaters or have food intolerances. Children can also suffer from different health-related issues when they aren’t getting enough vitamins and minerals from the foods they eat.
Poor eating habits can also lead children to gain weight. This is because they eat too much food with processed sugar or saturated fats.
So, how can you help prevent dietary problems in children?
Signs of possible dietary problems in children
Parents should be aware of these signs, as they could all be indicators of possible dietary problems in the future.
- Being underweight, small for their age or premature.
- Difficulty going from breastfeeding to eating solid foods.
- Pain when eating or when parents force them to eat.
- Excess discipline when eating. This especially happens when kids eat alone or without stimuli.
- Trauma, such as wounds in their mouth or having choked before. This makes kids afraid to eat.
How to prevent dietary problems in children
If you know the root of the problem, it’s easier to create a plan to help solve your child’s issues. When you start introducing solid food while breastfeeding, do this gradually.
This way, he’ll get used to the taste and texture from an early age. Therefore, he’s less likely to reject that kind of food in the future.
“Children can suffer from different health-related issues when they aren’t getting enough vitamins and minerals from the foods they eat.”
How to help children eat healthy foods
Babies often have a hard time accepting new foods. This is known as neophobia. In this case, they prefer foods that are rich in calories. They’ll feel full easily, but they won’t be properly nourished.
If you give little ones sweets or processed foods, they’ll obviously eat them without thinking about the harmful consequences they’ll experience in the long term. They’ll prefer those types of foods, not ones their bodies need to grow healthily.
To stop this behavior, parents should set the example for eating healthy foods and avoiding foods rich in sugars and fats.
Another important aspect is to make lunch time the most rewarding part of the day. Not only for the meal, but also for the company. It’s important that kids feel comfortable when they’re eating. They should enjoy their food and the environment they’re in.
Recommendations to create good eating habits
Eating well is a matter of habits. The following recommendations will make it easier to introduce your children to a healthy diet:
- Keep the food portions small. You can give your children some fruit as a dessert and a cold glass of water to drink.
- Some children may be intolerant to certain foods for different reasons. In these cases, don’t force them to eat them. It could cause adverse reactions in the future.
- Take some time to rest after every meal. This way, your child can digest properly. This also helps prevent constipation or inflammation of the intestines.
- Large meals like breakfast, lunch and dinner should be at the same time every day.
- Eat snacks about 2 hours after a meal. Preferably, the snacks should be fruit.
- Regarding sweets, only give your child sweets occasionally. You can set one day a week to give them some.
- Fats shouldn’t exceed 40% of daily meals. Meanwhile, proteins should be 20% of calories, and they should be a mix of both animal- and plant-sourced proteins.
- Be sure to moderate how much salt and sugar your children eat. They’re harmful to their health.
- Include your children when planning the menu for the week.
- It’s also important for children to be active or play some kind of sport.
All of these recommendations will help prevent dietary problems in children. However, don’t forget to include a daily dose of love and patience. Your children will always thank you for worrying about their health. They’ll grow up strong, healthy and happy.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Eating disorders: advice for parents. NHS. [Online] Avaiable at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/eating-disorders/advice-for-parents/
- Dillner, L. How can I stop my child developing an eating disorder? Lifestyle, The Guardian. 29 Aug 2016. [Online] Avaiable at: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/aug/29/how-stop-child-developing-eating-disorder-weight-obesity-diet
- Shaw, Heather et al. “Preventing eating disorders” Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America vol. 18,1 (2009): 199-207.