The making of PICKY eater – with excerpts from PediaSure panel discussion with renowned paediatricians & Lara Dutta

As a mother, I am constantly anxious about my kid’s nutrition. Is she having a balanced diet? Am I feeding her the right food components? Is the portion size right? Most importantly, is she eating enough?  So over the years I have sort of tried to put a method to this madness – which is pretty much chart out a line of meals for her comprising “nutritious” foods to the best of my understanding, laid out at set meal times and fed via a combination of methods such as distract via engaging in a story, board game, listening to songs, feeding in the car, chasing her with a paratha rolls in the garden. And when nothing works, there ALWAYS is the screen. Once in a while there also is a “if you don’t eat fast/fully/properly, you won’t get THAT”.

 

So far with me! If you are reading this, chances are that you, like me, are applying one or most of the above tricks – BECAUSE we want our kids to be fed well, hook or by crook!

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“Given a choice mothers would like babies to be born with a direct tube to their tummies – pick a spoon and drain”, says renowned pediatrician DrMukeshSanklecha at a very insightful panel discussion organised by PediaSure in Mumbai.  He was in conversation with former Miss World, actress& brand endorser Lara Dutta, experts in the fieldDr Sameer Dalwani&DrDharini Krishnan where they shared many anecdotes from their own parenting experiences. Nothing vouches better than personal experience, isn’t it?

 

As Lara rightly points it out, if the child doesn’t buzz, we are happy to provide at-least 3 other options. Not bhindi then try alloo, still a ‘no’ have some ketchup, how about some cheese. That almost always works. When she asks her 8 year old daughter – “are you hungry?” the answer is “NO”. “Do you want food? – NO”. She is so bang on, in a hundred years, my child has never said YES.

 

You get the drift right!

 

Pediatricians feel, our children never feel HUNGER, they have never experienced the joy of eating, well with the obvious exception of comfort foods. Daily meal-times are chores, and lets accept it when was the last time I was excited about completing a chore! We give gadgets, well what other option did I have, I may say in my defense. But then by the time she is 5 or say 8, I can’t take it away and expect her to start enjoying the meal all by herself because now she is a “grown-up”? Was she ever given a chance to feel hunger, appreciate the taste or develop a liking to healthy foods?

 

She was engrossed in a story, board game blah blahblah! Eating was only a job which was being done as a return of favour. A picky eater is BORN.

So effectively, here is what is happening, as explained beautifully by the panelists at the PediaSure GROW RIGHT meet –

As a mother I am so focused on getting the right nutrition into my child’s anatomy that I go to any length – at times subconsciously, to meet the pyramid. That translates more often than not into handing over the iPad – “Khana to khalenge, kyaburaihai” or bribing to pass on some comfort foods after finishing the plate. We prepare special kid’s meals, to suit the child’s taste-buds – that’s still ok but then we can’t stop ourselves from forcing the last few bites upon her “last 2 bite beta, finish it, hurry up”. Because we had measured up and prepared that quantity of meal, especially for her – remember the growth chart, I don’t want her to lag behind. The child in this whole process never gets a chance to learn to enjoy the meal itself, decide when he is actually full,  OR develop a positive attitude towards mealtimes. Our children today are fussier than ever!

 

“Feeding problems are often very frustrating and anxiety-provoking for the child, the one who feeds the child and the entire family. Longer mealtime leads to persistent conflicts and the child becomes more resistant to change.”

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I attended this insightful meet and I am summarizing some of the advice given by pediatricians 

# If the child says NO, let her come back demanding food. Theoretically she can come back in 2 hours but it may take longer, way more days. The key will be to stay patient and not give in to comfort foods. Feed the child when she is hungry, give her a chance to come back and ask for meals.

# Avoid preparing separate meals for kid’s right from a young age. Sow the seeds early on as course correction later is pretty lengthy and tedious.

# Let them play outdoors as much as they can & limit structured play.

# Doctor also advise to be mindful of serving foods that are genuinely difficult to like – eg bland tasting khichri.

# Set acceptable rules, and never forget to lead by example.

# Online food delivery may become the next addiction after screen amongst a generation being raised flaunting gadgets.

 

Actress Lara Dutta shared many tricks & techniques she finds effective as a parent. She feels going out shopping for veggies, say for example bhindi, with her child, washing & chopping it with her in the kitchen and then cooking the dish with her makes a really BIG impact on her little one. It goes a long way in getting the child to trying something new, developing a positive attitude & experience towards nutritious food.  Though the same is not true while baking cake where the notion is very different. Its sweet, all kids love to eat sweets.

 

She also believes in limiting screen time to 30 mins during non-holiday days. At the end of 30 mins the obvious question thrown her way is “Mamma, can I watch some more” to which she asks how long and her daughter ALWAYS says 5 mins. For children that young, 5 mins is a lot of allowance at least in their head and the screen time ends on a happy note for both mother & child at 35 mins instead of 30 mins. That is Lara’s mantra on controlling screen time. I do the same & I can vouch for it that it REALLY works.

 

Pediatricians strongly feel about developing right attitude towards nutrition from day zero.  Right nutrition is important during the formative years not just for physical health like height & weight development but also for cognitive development, behavior handling & intelligence. A balanced diet should comprise of all 5 components – carbs, proteins, fats, minerals & vitamins.

 

Research says more than 50% moms today are increasingly expressing their concerns over mental growth and social skills development of their toddlers.

 

In case a child is not taking the right nutrition, for any reason, if she is lagging behind on developmental milestones then a nutritional supplement will benefit her.  A milk based supplement like Pediasure will fill the gaps and provide all the 37 nutrients which are essential for holistic growth in the initial years. Kids especially love its taste, taking care of feeding wars. It has high-quality protein and a visible growth is seen in 90 days. Pediasure is also No 1 pediatrician prescribed brand in the world.

Abbott’s ‘Grow Right’ initiative has been envisaged by Pediasure to aid parents in their journey of ensuring right growth and development of their child, to help mothers win at child nutrition and growth. The Grow Right CHARTER was unveiled at this meet by pediatricians, Lara Dutta & Vishal Gupta – cofounder Momspresso.

Grow Right CHARTER – Highlights

RIGHT Nutrition: have table time, portion control, avoid dining out/ordering in,

RIGHT Play: Unplug the screen, growth happens offline

RIGHT Nurture: Get involved, don’t dictate, appreciate good behaviour, and never promise food as reward

RIGHT Impact: Keep calm and trust the pediatrician on growth pace of your child

 

As a mom, what do you think is leading to fussy eating? What is your mantra to limiting screen-time? How do you encourage your child to step outdoors? I would love to hear from you.

 

This article was first published here

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