I‘feed the children it has recently been the subject of many reflections. In fact, experts agree that eating disorders increase in childhood, also due to the pandemic. Among the underlying problems, the how family meals are often experienced: a ritual that should be of serenity for everyone ends up turning into a moment of tension. Between the children who refuse to eat and the parents who, as a result, become anxious. What to do then?
The answer comes from pediatricians and dietitiansoften highly appreciated by partnersthere, and ready to help moms to dads by providing them useful information to educate the little ones principles of healthy eating. By banishing anxiety and stress. The goal? Bring – finally – serenity to the table. Here is what some of them explained to us.
Feeding children: the importance of a healthy relationship with food
“Today it is very important to encourage children to have a healthy relationship with food – she tells us Dr. Carla Tomasinibetter known on social networks as Carla Pediatrician – in fact, at this time the relationship with food has been lost, both due to bad lifestyle habits and because, after the pandemic, we have found that meals have become a critical time for family relationships. In other words, many children have evacuated their psychological difficulties at the table”. This is a factor that partly explains why eating disorders have increased dramatically in childhood. “Often we tend to reduce everything to a problem of “Don’t eat/eat too much” – continues the pediatrician – in reality eating disorders stem from the mind and the relationship with food and family. That is to say, they are the mirror of the relationship that we have with the external environment. Food represents what enters the world in us: if there is something wrong around it, it affects the food”.
Aversion to food? Often no need to worry
One of the most common issues parents face is children’s aversion to certain foods. Vegetables first. But beware: you should not necessarily think that rejection is the sign of a problem. “Often, especially in the period between 2 and 5 years of lifemany children have traits of neophobia, that is to say the refusal of new foods, in particular of the vegetable group. – again explains Dr. Carla Tomasini – However, it is a generally transitory phenomenon which can be overcome with a bit of family food education”.
Feeding children: a book to discover healthy foods
It is precisely with this intention that was born “Let’s play with food friendly” (La Coccinelle), the new delivered for kids signed by pediatrician Carla. The refusal of food, typical of children, here takes on the appearance of a magician with an unequivocal name, Wheat What is it, protagonist of a fun adventure made up of games and windows to open. Through the story and the activities on offer, children can thus become familiar with essential foods for healthovercome anxieties and fears related to food.
Feeding children: when parental anxiety is the problem
Often, however, it is primarily to take a look at the table parental anxiety, worry that the child will not eat enough or that he will not receive the foods essential to his growth. “We must first remember that anxiety fuels a vicious circle. – warns pediatrician Tomasini – QWhen the child gets rid of certain foods, even in a physiological way, the innate fear of the parents that the child does not eat enough, ends up making things worse, create an uncomfortable situation at the table“. The first rule is therefore not to be discouraged by the refusal of the little ones for certain foods and continue to offer refused foods. “If a food is not liked, usually the parent removes it from the menu. – emphasizes the pediatrician – Instead, the exact opposite is true: if a food is thrown away, we need to offer it more often.. The question is not to insist but to be consistent in offering the discarded food. Present this food several times at the table without even waiting for the taste but just making it very common in the eyes of the child. The motto must be: bad who will not eat it!“.
When food refusal is pathological
Different speech if the foods the child refuses are so numerous that they affect their lifestyle and well-being. “If it’s just a few foods thrown away and not a wide range, and the child is growing, developing motor milestones, calm, and based on visits to the pediatrician everything is normal, you don’t have to worry. – in fact, specifies the pediatrician – Rejection is considered pathological when it is persistent, covers a wide range of foods and the child ends up eating 4/5 types of food. For example, cutlet, white pasta and biscuits. In this case, it also becomes a nutritional deficiency problem. Not only that, this selectivity can affect the social life of the child who stops going to birthday parties or does not eat in the school canteen”.
Healthy eating starts with weaning
But when can you start educate the youngest in the principles of healthy eating? Verdiana Raminadietitian with 175,000 followers, have no doubts: “It starts right away, that is to say weaning!”
after the book “Weaning for the whole family” at Gribaudo editions, Verdiana Ramina is indeed back in bookstores with “Animal Card Jelly” (What +). A kit made up of game cards that teach children (0 to 3 years old) to become familiar with food and a guide for parents. Inside are many useful tips on how to put together a balanced menu and especially on how live peacefully at mealtimesfrom weaning.
The parent does not need to be a policeman at the table
“The moment of weaning should not be experienced with anxiety – explains Verdiana Ramina – because this is one of the best times of life with the baby, allows us to witness its first discoveries. It’s a beautiful moment that we risk losing in the anguish of thinking about the number of grams he has actually eaten”. For this, it is also essential learn to review our approach to meals. “The parent does not have to go to the meal like a policeman who checks if his child is eating – emphasizes Verdiana Ramina again – I always say: we the parents we are not the supporters of our children’s hunger and satiety. We can simply provide the child with well-balanced meals, but then it is the child who decides how much to eat”.
Healthy dish: where to start?
“As I explain in the book, there are essentially two principles of healthy eating that we should all know and often tend to ignore. – continues the dietitian – The concept of food pyramidi.e. the frequency of food consumption, and that of healthy dish, with the balanced sharing of food”. Starting from simple rules, therefore, weaning the baby can also become an opportunity to learn a new, healthier approach to family nutrition. Based on variety and the right proportions.
Beware of distractions!
Another aspect that, according to experts, negatively affects the relationship of children with foodis thehabit of resorting to distractions to “feed them”. The classic example is that of feed the child by placing it in front of the tablet.
“The idea of the gamebook Pappa with animal cards was born of two factors – explains Barbara Franco, creator of the Quid + editorial line – taste education and the combination of technology and food. The realization that children are eating more and more industrial products and that at mealtimes, they are focused on a digital deviceled me to create a game that could, on the one hand, educate the child on a healthy and balanced diet, And on the other hand, help him experience mealtime as an opportunity for experimentation and knowledge. The ultimate goal? to commute the moment of porridge in a family habit, without technological devices and with the involvement of the whole family”.
Feeding children: favor fruits and vegetables, it’s possible!
Finally, another big parental dilemma is often to succeed feed small fruits and vegetables. To support mothers and fathers struggling with the age-old problem, the Dr. Marco Nuara, Specialist in pediatrics with specialization in neonatology, gastroenterology, immunology and pediatric allergology. In collaboration with Babaco Market, the delivery of Made in Italy fruit and vegetables created to fight waste, Dr. Nuara, very active on social networks, in fact, it provides parents with useful information to make the little ones accept even the most hated vegetables.
“A correct consumption of fruits and vegetables helps children to grow, to support the functions of the organism and the physical, mental and social well-being at any age and is useful in the prevention of many diseases” – specifies the pediatrician.
How to accept vegetables?
If the little one refuses the vegetables then, it is forbidden to give up because there are strategies to stem the problem. “Vegetables often come offered as an accompaniment and thus takes on an unattractive appearance – suggests Dr. Nuara – But it can also be offered by grasp with hands and nibble as a snackor used to season pasta, cereals, couscous, so that you become less a side dish and a more cheerful protagonist of delicious recipes“. Maybe broccoli will continue to not eat it but for sure, anxiety and fears aside, the results are sure to come. In the gallery above, then, 10 Strategies to Overcome Children’s Food Aversions and educate for a healthy relationship with food.
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