10 Tips to increase your child’s appetite
I don’t feel Hungry Mom!!
Is that what your child says? I want to eat Bhujia and Smiley’s, an add on fight point? Befuddled and frazzled, as a mom, you find yourself helpless when it comes to kids appetite, their food choices and these worries multiply with picky eaters around,Isn’t it? Well, the same was my footing, until the efforts we made as a family, reaped me with a much better appetite of my child. As most of the kids are somewhat picky eaters, we need to be more focussed on the “must nutrition” their body and mind needs for the proper growth. Kids may find excuses to skip their meals, but there are some real experimented ways, which can help you as a mom.
Excited? This post is for you all moms, with Picky eaters making you run all throughout the day.
Do you know what could be the reason of your child’s Low appetite?
- Food Intolerances, Dietary allergies, Celiac disease (Gluten intolerance)
- Digestive problems, gastric and bowel issues
- Sickness as Cold, cough, fever , which results in tastelessness and low appetite
- Continuous eating, Improper gap between the meals.
- Zinc deficiency, as zinc produces acids which are important for digestion of food. Zinc is also important for the immunity.
- Iron deficiency, which not just impacts appetite but also has impact on cognitive, motor and other developmental skills.
- Lack of Physical exercise
Let’s have a look on how to boost your child’s appetite “Nutritionally” :
1. Stop that full time feeds, often termed as “grazing” :
A bite of chips, few bites on Nachos, if your child has been grazing in every few minutes, you need to keep a tap now. Continuously nibbling something, will never make a child know the real hunger. If Hunger is not established, we cannot expect kids to have a better appetite. This also adversely affects their nutritional intake. Always ensure 2-3 hours gap between the meals offered to your child.
2. Mandatory breakfast in the morning :
Eating a healthy breakfast after a good night’s sleep, rejuvenates the metabolism and is bound to increase the appetite. This isn’t a new theory, it’s scientifically proven to have a good breakfast for better metabolism and even for weight loss in adults. Start and continue it, just ensure it needs to be healthy and not full of oily and fatty foods.
3. Iron Rich foods :
We all know that Iron and Zinc are important minerals for the overall growth in kids. As infants grow, their Iron reserves slowly deplete and unless it is replenished by dietary /non -dietary sources, Iron deficiency can lead to loss of appetite in kids.
Introduce more of Iron rich foods in your kids diet and pair them with Vitamin C rich foods, which help in better absorption of iron. Fortified Oatmeal, spinach, green leafy veggies, Beet root, Tofu, soaked nuts, Pumpkin seeds helps in providing the necessary Iron for their body. Cooking in cast iron pan is a very good option, which I started. Ditch your Non-stick or teflon pan’s and go for Cast iron pans for making chapati’s and veggies.
4. Zinc rich foods :
Zinc is not just required for appetite, but it is an important mineral having a role in immunity, growth and many physiological functions. Even a mild deficiency of zinc can result in loss of weight, appetite, and this loss enhances the susceptibility to infections. Add Zinc sources as beans, nuts, oats, Tofu, fortified cereals to your child’s diet.
5. Limit Milk consumption :
Our elders definitely used to focus a lot on the goodness of milk, but a child should not be given milk all the time. Too much milk is filling and it really kills the appetite for varied nutrients which a growing body needs. 2 glass milk a day for a child (3+years) is enough. Add on other dairy products (ignore if your child is dairy intolerant) as Yogurts, curd, buttermilk, cottage cheese in your child’s diet.
6. Offer food every 2 -3 hours :
Standard three meals a day doesn’t do any good for a child (and even for adults). It’s always better to have small, nutritional meals, to boost digestive system and have a better appetite. Since children are pretty active and they need instant energy, feed them with small portions of energy packets every 2 hours.
Foods which can be offered as small meals and which build up appetite are :
- Peanuts : Great to boost appetite, have Zinc and are high in protein (for growth of children). Can be added to salad as well. (Don’t use if your child is allergic to peanuts)
- Pomegranate Juice cures digestive disorders, protects liver, kills intestinal worms in children, so Pomegranate is a great appetite booster.
- Ajwain, can be given in form of Ajwain water or add to stir fry veggies, parantha’s.
- Soaked nuts as Almonds, walnuts, dates, Munakka, helps gain appetite and weight as well. You can also make fine nut powder and add it to your child’s foods and drinks.
- Buttermilk or curd, with mashed mint leaves, is a great appetite booster for babies and children.
- Lemon juice (don’t add extra sugar to it) is a stimulant and cooling agent which is light on stomach. Small 1-2 cups can be given daily.
- Papaya which helps in weight gain in children, is also rich in Vitamin A, C, E and is a great snack portion.
- Rasam, with real seasoning of Thyme, oregano, is a great drink to ease out stomach issues, boosts immunity and appetite. I have been serving Rasam atleast twice a week in breakfast, and it has come as a morning energy giver for us.
7. Get back to the basic of “No water while eating or just after food”
Children should drink water 30 minutes before their meal and it should be a regular habit (even for adults). A glass of water after getting up in morning, flushes all the toxins out of body and activates the digestive enzymes. A good breakfast after lemon water or normal water works wonders.
8. Chew well :
Teach children to focus only on food when its a meal time. They need to ensure that the bites are small and they chew their food properly. Gobbling a food will never do any good, rather harm the body however great nutrition you might be giving. Chewing helps in easy digestion and better metabolism.
9. Lots of Playtime and exercise :
Outdoor play is not just fun but it also tends to work towards a better appetite. I remember, I used to play more than 2 hours daily and used to rush home with like a hungry child. Limit your children’s screen, video time and engage in playtime. Start your child’s day with simple surya namaskar / simple 4-5 Yoga asana’s, 5 minutes breathing exercise and give your child enough time to play outdoors (be it structured sports, skates, cycle riding or any) in evening. Sedentary life kills appetite and is a home to diseases.
10. Refrain from high fat/oily foods :
We, Indian’s have lots of focus on high fat foods being offered to children out of sheer “love”. Well, ease it out mommies! Too much of oily, spicy, ghee laden foods do no good to kids. It rather kills the appetite and you will be back to square zero. Keep foods infused with good spices as cinnamon, thymes, oregano, fennel, ajwain but less of oils and masala’s.
Believe me, if you work on these points on a serious note, you will find a better blend of nutrition and a raising appetite among your child. Healthy food and healthy plans go a long way in our lives! Opt for it.
[Disclaimer : This post is basis my own mothering experiences and can no way be a substitute for any medical advice. If your child is severely underweight, refer to your doctor]