Harish Jharia

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17 December 2011

Why Children Do Not Eat Food: Poor Appetite Makes 5-7 Year Kids Weak

Teach them to chew the food-bites thoroughly and feel its taste...

(Applicable to 5-7 year old children)

               “Why my child does not eat?”

© Harish Jharia 

“Why my child does not eat?”

 …is a common unanswered question in the minds of all the parents about their 6-7 year old children. All of them complain that their kids do not eat food, do not drink milk, hate green vegetables, avoid moderate spicy food and dislike fresh fruits. This condition simply results into children’s weak body and poor growth associated with their frail body language and embarrassing behavior.  Most of the parents neither know the real reasons of children’s poor appetite nor do they have any idea about remedial measures for this problem. 
The frustrated parents resort to force-feeding and shouting at the reluctant kids. The children in turn, stuff their mouths with huge chunks of food and swallow it with mouthful of water. Gulping of un-chewed food, results in undesirable excessive load on the delicate digestive systems of children. In turn they acquire health disorders like indigestion, vomiting, constipation and stomach ache. These ailments eventually disturb their day-to-day life and even affect adversely on their sleeps at night.  

Most of the parents are not aware of the reasons for this widespread problem, whereas the reasons are quite very simple as follows:
  1. Children use to eat lot of snacks and sweets prior to their meals.
  2. Children do not chew their food and do not feel its taste.
  3. Children do not get adequate exercise due to prolonged viewing of TV and playing computer / mobile games.
Children eat snacks and sweets before meals:
In this corporate world, parents have limited or no time to spend with their children. They find shortcuts to keep their children under control by filling up their refrigerators with plenty of snacks, chocolates, cookies, ice-creams and candies. The children know well that all that stuff is meant for them and they eat the same as and when they feel hungry. 

They eat these heavy snacks usually before their meals; that means at about 10am to 12am (prior to 12:30pm* lunch) and somewhere at 6pm to 7pm (prior to 8:30pm* dinner). Children also refuse to take breakfast at 9am* in the similar situations because parents feed them with cookies, biscuits and glassfuls of milk at 7:30am to 8:30am in the morning. 

Children do not feel taste of food as they do not chew it well:
I have seen children stuffing their mouths with lumps of food and gulping it with the help of plenty of water. Detailed information about this is furnished in the 2nd paragraph above. While eating, they are usually put in a tensed situation as the parents keep shouting at them for forcing them to eat. Eventually, the children have to swallow the stuff through their dry mouths as their taste buds do not release saliva for creating ‘mouthwatering’ ideal eating conditions. We should remember that the saliva would only be released in the mouth if the food is chewed well. 

The parents should teach their children how to chew their food in a proper way. They need to guide the ways the kids should use their tongue to move the semi-chewed food between the grinding teeth. The children should know the utility of chewing by convincing them that they need to chew their food well and by doing so they will feel the real taste of it. 

In addition, parents should make the food specially tasty and mouthwatering by adding aromatic mild spices, herbs and lemon juice to them. The children should feel the aroma of the warm fresh delicacies that may initiate the mouthwatering process in their taste buds, well before eating.  

Children to get adequate exercise and reduce viewing TV and playing computer / mobile games:
Parents should not have misconceptions about their children that they get adequate workout and exercise in their schools. The children should rather have compulsory evening sessions of outdoor sports or games like soccer (football), cycling, and running at least for an hour at home.  By doing workouts the children will generate strong appetite and will ask for food all by themselves. 

The parents would have to control their diet immediately after their evening workout. The child can be given fruits, fruit juices or some other nourishment rather than going for heavy snacks like cookies, biscuits or high sugar candies, chocolates and ice-creams. 

The parents will have to remember that the children should have their food after 2 hours of workout. They will have strong appetite at that time and will eat their food without any extra motivation from their elders. 

How to make the food appetizing and tasty for 6-7 year children?
Parents always consider their children as small babies. Even children are found reminding their parents that they have become big.  That is the reason why the parents keep feeding their grownup kids with the diet recommended for smaller ones.  The 6-7 year children should not be given food recommended for babies of 3-4 years. They should rather be given food prepared for other members of the family. These grownup children would like to eat food that their parents and other elders eat.

It is better not to impose dietary restrictions on the children that are followed by other members of the family who are suffering from diabetes, hypertension, obesity, or any other disease. If the parent is a ‘size-zero’ enthusiast and has imposed qualitative and quantitative diet restrictions on him or herself then their child should be spared of this diet regime. The children should be given everything that is required for their growth, strength, immunity, body and bones etc. 

Following are some of the important points that should be remembered for devising good tasty food for 6-7 year children: 
  1. Let the multigrain breads or Atta for preparing Indian roties be used for elders. The children should be given food prepared from pure natural wheat flour that has better taste. 
  2. Do not use artificial sweeteners in children’s dish. Give them the real natural sugar. These artificial products like ‘Splenda’ have a different taste that can only be tolerated by adults.
  3. The children deserve natural pure butter. Keep the lite-butter made of vegetable oils for the other members of the family.
  4. ‘Less salt syndrome’ may be fine for the patients of hypertension. Let the children enjoy the taste of natural salt that they like.
  5. Mild aromatic spices and herbs like ginger, white pepper, green coriander, green mint leaves, fresh lemon juice etc should be added for enhancing appetizing fragrances of fresh dishes. 
*timings of meals and breakfast differ from family to family

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