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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Poor eating habits and how to change it?

Both parents and teachers teach their kids about healthy eating and spread the words about it. I have adviced many parents in this regard to check if their children are getting proper healthy diet. Because poor eating habits can effect the performance of your child at school.

Healthy food means "Eating a variety of foods, which could provide your child, essential nutrients such as protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, and minerals to well-nourish her/him. Naturally poor eating healthy habits would result in weak immune system, which increases the chances of sickness.

What are the poor eating habits?

Poor eating habits include:

- Eating a very limited variety of foods.
- Refusing to eat entire groups of foods such as vegetables.
- Eating too many foods of poor nutritional quality such as soft drinks, chips, and doughnuts.
- Overeating due to being served large portions or due to a parent saying "clean your plate" or "finish it all up.

What causes poor eating habits?
Poor eating habits can develop in otherwise healthy children for several reasons. Infants are born liking sweet tastes. But if babies are going to learn to eat a wide variety of basic foods, they need to learn to like other tastes, because many nutritious foods don't taste sweet.

Available food choices: If candy and soft drinks are always available, most children will choose these foods rather than a more nutritious snack. But forbidding these choices can make your child want them even more. You can include some less-nutritious foods as part of your child's meals so that he or she learns to enjoy them along with other foods. Although in the division of responsibility it is your child's job to decide how much of a food he or she will eat at a meal, it is okay to limit dessert to one serving. It is your responsibility as a parent to decide what foods are offered as well as when and where meals and snacks are offered. Try to keep a variety of nutritious and appealing food choices available.

Healthy and kid-friendly snack ideas include:

- String cheese.
- Whole-wheat crackers and peanut butter.
- Air-popped or low-fat microwave popcorn.
- Frozen juice bars made with 100% real fruit.
- Fruit and dried fruit.
- Baby carrots with hummus or bean dip.
- Low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit.

The need for personal choice.
Power struggles between a parent and child can affect eating behavior. If children are pressured to eat a certain food, they are more likely to refuse to eat that food, even if it is something they usually would enjoy. Remember, your responsibility is to provide a variety of nutritious foods. Your child's job is to decide what and how much he or she will eat from the choices you offer.
Emotion. A child's sadness, anxiety, or family crisis can cause undereating or overeating. If you think your child's emotions are affecting his or her eating, focus on resolving the problem that is causing the emotions instead of focusing on the eating behavior.

If your child is healthy and eating a nutritious and varied diet, yet eats very little, he or she may simply need less food energy (calories) than other children. Similarly, some children need more daily calories than others the same age or size, and they eat more than you might expect. Every child has different calorie needs.

In rare cases, a child may eat more or less than usual because of a medical condition that affects his or her appetite. If your child has a medical condition that affects how he or she eats, talk with your child's doctor about how you can help your child get the right amount of nutrition.

What are the risks of eating poorly?
A child with poor eating habits is going to be poorly nourished. That is, he or she won't be getting the amounts of nutrients needed for healthy growth and development. This can lead to being underweight or overweight. Poorly nourished children tend to have weaker immune systems, which increases their chances of illness. Poor eating habits can increase a child's risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes later in life.

Source: Healthy eating for children

To read more about the topic:

* Factors that influence children's food choices
* Changing Your Family's Eating Habits

Related article from "A learner's diary":

* Healthy eating for your child
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