Your child’s eating habits: what’s normal and what’s definitely not?

Your child’s eating habits what’s normal and what’s definitely not
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Who would’ve thought that your biggest feeling of accomplishment as a human being would come from a bunch of empty dirty dinner plates. NOTHING, and I do mean nothing, comes close to the feeling of watching your home-cooked plate of food containing all the food groups get eaten up.

So it’s no wonder the number one cause of parenting concern in the first seven years of your child’s life is feeding. Why has something that should be so intuitive and so natural become something so worrisome, complicated, a battle ground wrought with some scary emotions?

This might surprise you, but this has not always been the case. Less than 50 years ago very little was known, documented or identified as picky or fussy eating. It is a modern lifestyle challenge. So what has changed?

  • Mistrust in our ‘momtuition’ due to information overload – we’ve been bombarded with an insane amount of information
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Hurried lifestyle
  • Too much access to convenient food
  • Increase in fast food and take away solutions

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Mistrust in our ‘momtuition’:

With so much information out there and a feeling of the well-being of my baby belongs in the hands of experts, moms have lost their trust in their own intuition. I really believe mom still knows best and she knows her baby and child better than anyone. TRUST your gut.

Unrealistic expectations

We somehow forget what it was like to be a child on so many levels, especially when it comes to eating. Children between the ages of 1-7 years slow down dramatically when it comes to physical growth. If a child kept growing at the rate they did when they were under a year, we would all be giants by the age of 7.

Do the math…. your baby born at 3kg weighs 9kg at a year – that’s three times its birth weight. So let’s assume your baby grows at the same pace the next year.
By 2 years old, your toddler will be 27kg.
By 3 years old, he will weigh 81kg.
At 7 years old, your grade 1 child will weigh 6561kg.

So clearly there’s a huge metabolic shift and we don’t realise it as it creeps up on us.

What is Normal?

  1. It’s normal for your child to have ‘abundant’ eating days and ‘lean’ eating days.
  2. It’s normal for your child to want to be fed at some or all mealtimes.
  3. It’s normal for your child to ‘binge’ eat on one food group for a few days then shift to another food group.
  4. It’s normal for your child to only eat one or two veggies and/or fruit from the veggie/fruit group.
  5. It’s normal for your child not to want to chew meat protein like chicken and beef.
  6. It’s normal for your child’s attention span around meals to last for a short period (10-20 minutes).
  7. It’s normal for your child to eat a food to death. For example, to live on eggs for weeks and then suddenly decide they don’t want them anymore.
  8. It’s normal for a child to eat better off your plate than their own plate.
  9. It’s normal for a child to eat better in the morning than supper – most children intuitively eat like a King at breakfast, a Prince at lunch and Pauper in the evening.
  10. It’s normal for your child to try control mealtimes, so you need to maintain your responsibility of providing WHAT is served, WHEN food is served and WHERE food is eaten. They are responsible for HOW MUCH they eat.
  11. It’s normal for a child to eat no more than a total of 1-2 fistfuls of food at a time. Six regular small meal opportunities in a day trumps all day grazing OR three large meals.

You might also like: How to deal with picky eaters

When Do You Need to Worry?

  • Your child avoids one whole food group entirely so eats NO fruit/vegetables or NO protein foods etc.
  • Your child is lethargic and lacks energy.
  • Your child shows no drive to eat or drink milk supplements.
  • Your child only drinks liquids.
  • Your child is regularly ill and has potential nutritional deficiencies.
  • Your child is controlling mealtimes and mealtimes have become a battle ground.
  • Your child is whiny and miserable all the time.
  • Your child is living on high starch and sugary foods.
  • Your child won’t sit or be around food.
  • Your child refuses to engage or touch most foods.

What to do if you’re worried:

  • Take your child for a medical check-up.
  • Get assistance with regards to your child’s diet and supplements.
  • Redefine your child responsibilities when it comes to food.
  • Have a good holiday – once you have the first three points in place take the focus off the food and start to enjoy your child away from the eating environment.
  • Remember every positive change is a step in the right direction.

Moms a lot is normal and when it’s not normal, you calmly find the right help and this can become an exciting journey of hope and who knows eventually your fussy eater could become a foodie.

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