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Video: Children Are Less Picky About Food When Parents Don't Force Them To Eat - Us Pediatricians
Children are less picky about food when parents don't force them to eat - us pediatricians
At the same time, capricious eaters are less likely to suffer from obesity, in contrast to less fastidious peers.
Photo: CC0 Public Domain
A team of scientists from Michigan Medicine CS Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan published the results of a study in the Journal Pediatrics, which was conducted on 317 mother-child couples. These were families included in the Head Start program of the US Department of Health and Human Services, that is, with low income.
For five years, families filled out questionnaires in which they described the eating behavior of children at 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9 years old. This allowed the researchers to trace how the eating habits of children were formed and changed depending on age, but at the same time the data obtained do not yet allow us to know at what age children get rid of whims - this will require longer observations.
Scientists have identified low, medium and high levels of picky food among children. About 15% of them turned out to be the most capricious - such children, for example, refuse vegetables or are nervous about new products that they have not tried before. As it turned out, it was in these families that the parents most of all controlled the feeding behavior of their children and forced them to eat according to the principle “eat what you give”. At the same time, in families where the child is not forced and does not restrict him in food, these problems do not exist. It is the control that makes children act up, experts say.
“Nutrition is one of the few parts of a child’s life that he can control on his own. We found that the mothers of children who were the most picky about food severely restricted their intake of unhealthy foods and sweets,”said senior study author, pediatrician Megan Pesch, who focuses on development and behavior at Michigan Children's Mott Hospital. She noted that the normal desire of parents to form healthy eating habits in children through coercion can have undesirable consequences.
There is good news for worried parents, though: while most moody eaters have a lower BMI, many are in the healthy range and not underweight. They are also less likely to be overweight and obese than their peers, who happily eat what they give.
Pesch says healthy eating habits need to be instilled in less authoritarian ways - that is, not through bans and restrictions - before a child turns 4. It is at this age that children begin to noticeably pick and choose and, as research has shown, their eating behavior does not change over the next five years. This suggests that whims may not end in adulthood, as many parents hope for.
Here are some tips the authors of the study give parents of choosy kids:
1. Do not force the child to eat what he does not want, but continue to put this food on the table and eat it yourself. A child can ignore certain foods for a long time, but then, on his own initiative, put them on a plate as soon as they cease to be associated with negative experiences (for example, when he was forced to eat).
2. Show how much you like the food, with all family members involved. It's natural for a child to imitate those they love and trust. If he sees that mom, dad, brother or sister are happy to eat beans, at some point he will want to follow their example.
3. Involve children in food selection and preparation. Go to the store with him and offer to choose one or two vegetables, and then cook dinner with him. According to Megan Pesch, understanding where the food comes from will dispel unpleasant associations, in addition, the child will be proud of the dish that he helped prepare.
4. Add variety to your diet. Nobody wants to eat green beans every day.
5. Do not prepare separate meals for the child. If he has any whims, do not fall into the trap "I cook for him separately." This will only strengthen his confidence in his righteousness.
6. Make your breakfast, lunch or dinner fun and enjoyable together. Don't turn on the TV, don't pick up your phones, just chat with the whole family, discuss the news, joke - family unity is the best way to form healthy habits.