Food is one of the most fundamental building blocks of the body. The positive impact of food consumption on well-being is not limited to what people consume but also extends to how they consume it. Parent-child interaction during feeding differ in the degree to which children are allowed some degree of autonomy in eating. These interactions can have a powerful influence on children’s developing food preferences, intake patterns, diet quality, growth, and weight status.
When children interact with food, they have tendency to form positive or negative food association and this become lifelong food associations that affect their eating habits later. Thus, it is essential to create a positive eating environment around children.
Eat together as a family
Family mealtime helps family members to maintain relationships and feel a sense of belonging. Parents must eat with their children because children learn through observation, so parents can be a great positive role model and always show your children how much you enjoy fruits and vegetables and the foods they don’t like to eat. Goat Milk Formula is also a good source of nutrition for babies.
Always avoid pressuring your children to eat
If children get in trouble for not eating a particular food like vegetables/fruits or for not drinking milk, they will associate that food with getting in trouble. Later on, subconsciously, they may make negative association with those particular foods because they give them unhappy memories. If parents still give same food to children forcibly, children will definitely hate food and meal time will be a struggle leaving parents and the child exhausted and in distress.
Parents must not show that they are getting frustrated and upset if children do not want to eat a certain food. Always try to make positive association which can help your children associate fun and good memories with eating these foods.
No TV during meal time
Families sitting together at the table and eating meals is a good custom. It promotes family bonding and helps to bring the family closer. Watching TV while eating may lead to bingeing or improper chewing as one is distracted. Children who regularly eat with their family feel safe and are more emotionally connected.
Never use food as a reward or punishment
Saying things such as: ‘You need to eat more of your lunch before you can have chocolate,’ or ‘You have to eat your fruit before your ice cream’ are examples of situations where food is potentially been used as a reward. Using food as a reward encourages ‘non-hungry’ eating behaviour and can lead to children over-eating, this can affect their natural ability to regulate their appetite. This may increase the risk of a poor relationship with food and linking negative emotion for later life. Offer a variety of healthy foods and let your children eat without any pressure.
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Manisha Dhami is a PhD student at Punjab Agricultural University. She carries out research in human development.