Your child’s nutritional needs won’t be complete with just the same foods every day. That’s why you throw in a little bit of everything on their plate. And it takes a variety of foods to fulfil your child nutritional requirements on a daily basis.
In fact, the more you expose your little one to food choices, the better they will be able to adapt themselves growing up. Children who aren’t fussy about food are also great to deal with for parents. Imagine not having to constantly run after them to eat something or expect a tantrum when stepping out of the house.
Yes, that’s fuss-free nutrition and more peace of mind for you. Moreover, making snacks for picky eaters is a mental task you can avoid throughout the day.
However, most parents fall into the trap of opting for snacks that appear healthy and are usually a convenient way for children to eat something nutritious. But what most parents do not realise is that these snacks act more as fillers, which then kill the appetite for a proper meal.
You end up with kids not being hungry during mealtime, which only makes them picky eaters going forward. So what foods are actually harmful to your child? Let’s tell you more about that.
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Snacks For Picky Eaters? Which Foods Are Biggest Contributors
Experts suggest avoiding foods that have lots of starch. Some foods may sound nutritious just come with simple starches that fill up your little one.
Paediatrician Dr Leah Alexander explains that some snacks like veggie straws are marketed as healthy foods but may not necessarily be that way. It has puffed starch and also comes with vegetable colouring. Alexander says that this makes it similar to potato chip in terms of nutrition as against an actual vegetable.
Similarly, parents should avoid giving their children any food item that contains ingredients evaporated cane juice and agave syrup. These are sweeteners that have been added to packed drinks and snacks. They suppress the child’s appetite, and the child ends up feeling full around mealtime.
“There are studies that show even natural sugars trigger something in the brain that makes you crave more of a sweet taste which causes you to gravitate more towards sweet foods,” says Dr Alexander.
When the time comes to add actual nutrition to your child’s body, your kid is feeling too full to have anything else. So they’ve missed out on their fill of proteins, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and a proper meal would provide.
Moreover, if your child is craving sugary items too often, they are more likely to refuse more wholesome meals.
Parents should also avoid items that claim to have fruit in them. In most cases, it’s usually the fruit flavoured extract instead of actual fruit that’s part of the package.
Dr Alexander says, “Fruit snacks aren’t necessarily as bad as gummy candy, but they’re similar.”
Filling Up On Empty Calories
While fruit extracts are a no-no, fruit juices aren’t great either. Dr Alexander explains that juices are empty calories. Kids usually like them simply because they are sweet. However, consuming too much will make them feel full and less hungry toward other foods.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting the intake of juice products to about four ounces in a child between the age of 1-3 years. You can gradually increase it to 4-6 ounces for children between the age of 4-6 years, and up to eight ounces for children about the age of seven.
snacks for picky eaters
Foods That Help Your Child Eat More Options
If you think your child is only opting for snacks for picky eaters, then you must actively make effort to introduce different food options in their diet. As per the American Academy of Pediatrics, here’s what you must add:
- Fresh vegetables and fruits like carrots, apples, bananas, cherries, apricots and more.
- Whole-grain cereals or bread as well as whole-grain crackers or chips.
- Fat-free, fruit-flavoured yoghurt with not more than 30 gm of sugar.
- Encourage them to drink more water instead of other drinks.
All children go through the picky eater stage. But that how you control from thereon is up to you. Make sure to read the fine print on packaged products before handing them to children. At the same time, always encourage them to have fresh foods whether at home or outside.
And finally, make sure to experiment with their taste buds on a regular basis to get them acquainted with different tastes and cuisines. Start slow, have patience and keep trying, your child will come around to enjoying what’s on their plate.
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