What’s Behind the Mealtime Struggles?

As a parent, you may feel responsible to make sure your child gets the nutrition they need. But children often develop worrying eating habits and behaviours. Today, we'll discuss food jags and food aversion in children.

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Children often develop eating behaviours that worry their parents. Most children would pick eating their favorite food all day over a balanced diet in a heartbeat. But as a parent, you’d naturally feel responsible to ensure your child gets the nutrition they need for healthy growth and development. Two common eating behaviors seen in children are food jags and food aversion.

 

Food jags and aversion

Part of making sure your child gets good nutrition involves eating a variety of healthy foods from different groups. A food jag is when a child chooses to eat only one food for all meals. As for food aversion, this term refers to children refusing to eat certain foods.

 

Is there a reason behind your child's eating behaviour?

Most children are picky eaters by nature. For those with adventurous taste buds, there’s a good chance that their favourite food could be considered healthy while for picky eaters, it may simply be junk food. For instance, some children wouldn't mind eating chicken rice (or even plain porridge) all day. But food jags can affect your child's health since this behaviour can prevent them from getting the nutrients they need through eating a variety of foods.

However, food jags aren’t a cause of concern in most cases and usually get resolved with time. In fact, food jags and aversion are a normal part of a child’s development. Children's eating habits can be a way of asserting their independence. Addressing these issues can help your child get the nutrition he or she needs. 

 

Promoting healthy eating habits in children

If you offer your child his or her all-time favourite tomato pasta every day, then you’re missing out on the chance to introduce a variety of different healthy foods. It is important to cultivate a balanced and healthy diet by offering meals with other nutritious options. Introducing a variety of food will allow your child to be more acceptable to eating other nutritional foods as well.

If your child is insisting on eating unhealthy food during meal times, you may consider offering nutritious alternatives during snack times. Your child will then open up to other options. You may need to constantly introduce a new food (which could go up to 10 times) before your child starts to accept it! The same goes for food aversions, offering a variety of foods consistently is key to having your child accept them.

When exposing your child to new foods or trying to get them out of a food jag, always avoid forcing foods upon them and respect their appetite. While feeding time may be the most stressful time of the day, it is also important to avoid threats, punishments and junk food treats. Instead, continue offering nutritious foods at meal and snack times. 

Other ways that could help your child open up to a variety of healthy foods is by appropriately engaging them in cooking, giving them the same meal as everyone else without cooking your child a separate meal and making their food more visually appealing. 

 

Sources:

https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/toddler-meals.html?view=ptr

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/childrens-health/art-20044948

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-jags

 

 

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