Let’s imagine a few scenarios in our mind:
- Grandma tempts your 4-year-old with a plate of frosted cookies and a glass of milk just an hour before dinner.
- Grandpa comments on your eating habits and makes comparisons saying that, “Finish your meal completely to grow up like your big brother”.
- Your favorite sister is hosting dinner. She comes up with a batch of freshly baked chocolate brownies along with a price tag to pay for it by commenting that, “Cookies can be taken by anyone who is done with their dinner.”
Each of these scenarios bring one common thought to all of us that our close-knit relatives are trying to push food on our children. Though they might be having a good intention in their mind, they are unknowingly cornering our children to several problems, such as:
- Making the child eat for the sake of others rather than themselves.
- Stimulating the child to eat frequently instead of letting the child decide on his/her hunger cues.
- Cultivating the habit of associating food with punishment and making them “earn” desserts or their favorite foods by gambling for certain other foods.
Present Exciting Alternatives
Address the family member. Decide upon a way to deal with the family member. If the food-pushing relative is a person who meets your child once in a blue moon, letting go and ignoring the issue is the best option at hand for such problems.
But, if the food-pushing relative visits your child frequently and insists on following his ideas, the best solution is to approach the situation directly and address it at the earliest chance possible. Take care to speak to the relative only in the absence of your child and explain the problem at hand. Registered dietitians and nutritionists promise that, once they become aware of the problem, they will have the best interest of your child in their mind.
Suggest your loved ones to try other options to shower their affection on your children. It can be reading a book together or playing a board game, going out for a movie or short trip, or hiding a sweet note in the child’s backpack, lunchbox or under their pillow.
Keep Out your Little Ones and Involve your Older Kids
Acclaimed dietitians feel that it is in the best interest of young children to keep them uninvolved and out of any discussions regarding this problem. Nutritionists put forth the fact that children who are aware of the problems start to feel conscious about their eating habits.
In addition, involving youngsters conveys the message that food is an emotionally charged issue.
The situation becomes much simpler with older children who can speak for themselves. Before meeting relatives, discuss with your children the ways in which they can politely turn down food offers. Rather than saying a straightforward “no thanks”, guide your child to say “no” along with a compliment like, “It looks yummy, but it’s too close to dinner time. Can I take some for later?”
Children of any age should never be pushed to eat something which they dislike. Guiding and teaching them to keep tab on their hunger cues and fullness will make them eat consistently and justly. Knowing your hunger quotient is essential to eat balanced portions of food and to avoid overeating. Interested in knowing your hunger quotient level? Then, have a look at these levels at www.firsteatright.com.