Parents can influence children’s eating habits.

Every parent is concerned about what their children eat. Too much focus is put on what they eat rather than how they eat. A recent research by American Heart Association’s (AHA) provides evidence-based suggestions on establishing healthy eating behaviours in children. Child obesity or weakness or other such child nutrition issues can be tackled by understanding why different children have differing abilities. A great way to do this is by instilling ideal eating behaviour in the child right from the start. 
The research was based on more than 200 references to previous research and discusses topics ranging from prenatal influences to considerations during preschool ages. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Alexis C. Wood, PhD, the writing group chair for the scientific statement and assistant professor at the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agriculture Research Services Children’s Nutrition Research Center and the department of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, wrote in the statement, “”Parents and caregivers should consider building a positive food environment centered on healthy eating habits, rather than focusing on rigid rules about what and how a child should eat”. 

Here are some tips that the statement suggested to build healthy diet environment for healthy eating behaviour of children – 

1. Caregivers should pay attention to children’s verbal and nonverbal signals of hunger and fullness and should not pressure children to eat more than they wish.

2. Parents should not focus on what or how much a child eats. Rather, a varied diet should be encouraged – such as by consistent and repeated offering of healthy foods to children, the use of “preferred” foods (such as a dip), and also consuming the food themselves.

3. An appropriate structure around food should be set that provides rules and limits around children’s meals, via consistent snack routines, timing of meals, and selective availability of foods in the home.

4. Parents should focus on creating an environment that encourages decision-making skills and provides exposure to a variety of healthy, nutritious foods throughout childhood.

5. Parents of infants should observe patterns of hunger (such as opening the mouth wide or settling into the feed) and satiety (such as taking interest in surroundings, decreases in activity level, pulling away abruptly or detaching from the nipple, and falling asleep) cues and can distinguish these from non-appetite related cues.

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By Papa