Eating behavior of children – part 1

Babies and toddlers are born with a basic need for food. They generally know very well what they need and what is good for them. Overfeeding a breastfed infant is very unlikely. This assumption is based on the biological endowment of humans in evolution. In evolutionary development, humans have been better prepared for starvation than for an excess of food.

On the way from the millennia-long food shortage in humans to the civilized food of today, societies that have not learned to adapt to the respective living conditions have nutritional problems. Western nations are obese from overeating. This is one of the consequences of the wrong choice of food and the main risk factor for most civilization diseases in an affluent society. the increasing obesity, even in children and the knowledge that the human organism is naturally very good at regulating its own feelings of hunger and satiety raises the question of what influences the environment and upbringing have on this.

Children’s eating habits should be learned.

Dealing with the abundance of food is much more difficult than the food shortage and must be learned and trained from birth. If no food is available, man and his body have to adapt to this situation. If, on the other hand, there is enough food and there are even options to choose from, we are overwhelmed with this situation. We must deal with learn to eat. Since the parents act as a model for their children, they should also be held responsible for nutritional education in the early years. You have to correct eating habits set an example If this creates a positive impression on the child, he will also endeavor to behave in the way that is modeled for him.

In the course of time other model figures are added, such as kindergarten teachers, teachers, friends, aunt, grandma and grandpa, who also have to learn to differentiate between them eating habits at home and in another environment. A different environment also includes the children’s eating experience on holiday, dealing with getting to know new dishes, preparations, types of vegetables and fruit. It is crucial that the parents get involved in new food cultures themselves and encourage them to try them. A disadvantage are holidays in club resorts, where the children are happy to be catered for separately, with everything they know from home and usually belongs to the fast food chain. An example would be the most popular travel destination for Germans, “Spain”. There are families who have been vacationing there with their children for years and do not even know the national dish, let alone tried it. If you ask children what they ate on vacation, you get the answer – Mickey Mouse menu, or fries, with chicken wings, for example. If you ask parents why they don’t let their children try something different, the answer you get is that the children don’t want to try something new.

eating behavior of children

Most parents are still of the opinion that a child will starve to death if a meal is not eaten and therefore like to take the little ones to Mc Donalds on vacation. It is also not surprising that more and more international cuisine is offered in distant countries, the demand for it is simply too great. It results from the travel experiences that we had as children and that we pass on to others. We are used to always eating the same food and we have successfully educated the tour operators in this area. Eating education on vacation could be arranged in such a way that the club facilities, equipped with numerous animators, take up the topic of food in another country. Just as you enable the children to play tennis, horseback riding, swimming, etc., you could also introduce local fruit and vegetables or organize a visit to the kitchen. Even if the parents are not interested in new dishes, one would have the opportunity to bring the variety of foods closer to the children on vacation. Because children are more receptive to it than you think, it should only be conveyed to them in an interesting way.

However, nutritional education should not be confused with eating as a means of education; it must not be exploited as such. The attitude – my child is on vacation and can therefore eat what it wants and knows – is the wrong way. This means you should not reward or comfort your child with food. In our fast-moving times, with the multiple stress factors of adults, it is a quick temptation to put small sweets in the mouth of a crying child just to comfort them. However, this only teaches the child to comfort himself with food. Attention and closeness, on the other hand, have a much greater effect.

Author: Sonja Frobel

Photo Credit: alice-photo, Syda Productions /

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