Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

The Hunger Games

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

The Hunger Games

Article excerpt

IF YOUR child has an insatiable hunger, it can leave you in a tricky spot. Do you stand firm against their persistent pestering, or give in and risk overfeeding them?

The thing is, your child's early eating habits can dictate their weight later in life, so knowing how to decode their bottomless hunger is key. Here are some questions to ask yourself next time your child becomes a non-stop eating machine. Sometimes kids just want to eat. And it doesn't necessarily mean they're ravenous. All too often my children nag for a snack and when I suggest a piece of fruit, they're far from interested.

In this instance, I often ask them whether they are "hungry in their tummy or just feel like food in their head". It's important for them to understand the difference, particularly if they only ate lunch 30 minutes ago.

Not enough fuel v the growth spurt

Kids are basically balls of energy. They're constantly running here, there and everywhere. Then there are those rapid growth spurts. When my six-year-old son constantly pesters me for food, I weigh up two things: how active has his day been; and how many inches has he sprouted lately? If it seems to add up, I trust his instincts.

However, that doesn't mean giving your child nutrient-dense, processed snacks (like a packet of chips). The key is to choose slow-releasing energy choices. Opt for wholegrains (like crackers with hummus or cheese, wholegrain bread with nut butter or a fruit smoothie whipped up with some oats). Get a plate and mix up a little variety (even if that includes a few crisps).

They're still learning how to be patient

Patience really is a virtue - and most kids haven't quite mastered it yet. This can often be why they're snack-obsessed before meals. Our job is to teach them that waiting for a meal is part of life, and having a pre-dinner snack can spoil the main event. …

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