Some children don’t know how to say “I’m filled up” and it all starts from when they are sucklings. In a new study, from University College London, researchers found that as little as one extra spoonful of food at each meal could put your child at increased risk of obesity in later life. Meanwhile there are days when your baby eat more than usual, how then can you tell when and if he has had enough to eat?
Children Who Are Less Aware Of ‘Feeling Full’ Are More Likely To Overeat
The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, focused on children’s responsiveness to food cues. They looked at how sensitive children are to external food cues (e.g. seeing food), and how aware they are of internal cues (e.g. feelings of fullness). The researchers found that children who were less aware of feeling full were more likely to overeat.
And when the researchers analysed food diaries, kept by over 2,500 parents of children aged between four and eighteen months. Despite what you might expect, the researchers didn’t find unhealthy foods or excess snacking were to blame. In fact, they found that the heavier children were eating the same foods as their leaner counterparts.
The study suggests that parents need guidance on how often their kids should eat, the portion sizes, and they also need information and advice if their child is overeating.
What You Can Do About It
Encourage your child not to overeat by listening to his body, to do this, you need to trust your child’s body to tell him when he’s eaten enough, when he’s hungry and also trust him to be able to interpret these cues. Which means when your child says he’s okay, don’t force him to finish his meal.
1. Avoid Bribing Your Child To Eat Food
By talking your child into eating when he says he’s not hungry “Take two more spoonfuls, one more, this one has egg” or saying, “if you eat this I’ll give you that” in order to encourage them to eat, you risk overriding his natural instincts about food.
Also, you’re putting him at the risk of not being able to understand and listen to these cues. And if your child can’t know when his body is telling him he’s filled up overeating could become normal for your child.
2. Opt For A Child-Led Approach
As soon as your child is ready to start trying solid foods, let your child feed themselves from immediately you wean them, by spoon feeding them with pureed baby foods, it’s easy to overfeed them. Provide your baby with some healthy finger foods and allow him take control of how much he eats.
3. Avoid Using Food As A Treat
A new research from three universities in the United Kingdom found children who receive food as treats may learn to rely on food to regulate their emotions. It makes sense, if you always bribe your child with food to avoid tantrum, appease their anger or calm their emotions, your child may feel the need to eat every time they are going through emotional turmoil.
Continue to provide your child with a healthy, balanced diet, and allow him to take charge of just how much he eats.