The American Heart Association recently published a new statement that emphasizes the importance of monitoring children’s diets to prevent obesity and heart disease. Let us take a look at their recommendations.
Children have different responses to internal triggers of hunger, not only what they eat, but how they eat is also essential. Most children are born with an instinct to stop eating when they feel full. This is called self-regulation. It is also influenced by the emotional atmosphere around them and the parents play a significant role, of course. If there’s a pressure to eat from the parent’s end, the child may ignore the internal cues to stop eating and may overeating to please their parents.
That’s why there should be no pressure on the child to eat more than what they wish to eat, scientists say. Parents and caregivers need to pay attention to the verbal and non-verbal signals coming from the children regarding hunger.
Most parents find it difficult to allow children to make their own food choices. They frequently report children being picky eaters. Also, children are often unenthusiastic to try new foods, this behavior is most common among children aged 1 to 5 when they are learning to eat on their own. At that age child most vulnerable to developing healthy eating habits.
While the statement recommends that rigidity and authoritarian approach regarding food rules should be discouraged. Allowing children to eat whatever, whenever they want, is not a good option for obvious reasons. That’s why parents need to find a delicate balance when taking care of a child’s diet.
An environment of healthy eating options
Researchers reported that an environment of healthy eating options leads to healthy body weight throughout their life, and keeps heart disease at bay. Researchers say parents need to become positive eating role models so their children and develop a healthy food environment. Meal timings should be consistent, and new healthy food variations need to be included in the menu, along with foods that the child already enjoys.