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Here are common practices that parents should do away with during mealtimes

By Judith Mukiri Mwobobia | October 19th 2020

Myth # 1: Children should eat everything they are served

Parents expect children to like and eat everything they are served. When this does not happen, children are often threatened, punished or forced to eat what they do not want.  

What this does: If a child gets into trouble for not eating a particular food like vegetable, they start associating that food with trouble. As they grow older they may shy away from such a food because they give them unhappy memories.

Myth # 2: Children are not full until they clear their plate

Chubby children are often thought of as being prettier and healthier. Due to this perception children are often served portions that can satisfy adults. Pressure is also put on the children to finish the food through various coercion methods like withdrawal of favours, threats, punishment or denial of play time.

What this does: Forcing your child to clear their plate even when they are full makes them grow up not knowing when to stop eating, which increases their risk for obesity and other non-communicable diseases. Your child is very capable of communicating when they are full. Listen to them.

Myth # 3: Refined snacks are okay as long as child has had a balanced meal

Parents often ensure that their children’s diet is quite healthy during the main meals but get more lenient with snacks. Most snacks given at home or carried to school like crisps, cookies, packet juices and corn puffs are usually highly processed.  

What this does: Children can get addicted to the chemicals used to process such snacks.

Artificial flavours, sweeteners, preservatives and other additives may create a craving that can only be satisfied by consuming more of a particular food. If such a food is made available, the child will definitely choose it over a healthier option. Foods that may not have such chemicals will often be rejected since they don’t trigger the same stimulatory responses to satisfy the craving.

Myth #4:  My eating habits don’t affect how my child feeds

Young children learn through observation and emulation. They pick and copy habits they observe in those they see as authority figures, especially parents. They see what their parents do as a blueprint of how things should be done. Children often model the eating habits of their parents or caregivers. If you are a picky eater, your child is more likely to pick the same habit. 

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