Why is your child "hungry"?
While we may not be aware of it, a number of things can trigger us and our children to seek out food!
Is your child asking for food because they are thirsty?
We often mistake thirst for hunger!! Make sure your child is properly hydrated throughout the day in between meals and snacks. Remember, just because your child is asking for food doesn't mean you let them graze! Only eat at meal and snack times!
Is your child asking for food because they are bored?
Often, when we are bored we find ourselves munchie and peckish! If that is your child, help them find something to keep them busy, leave the house, go for a walk or play at the park, etc. Also, this is a great time to teach your child about their bodies, their food triggers, boredom, and come up with solutions together to deal with them!
Is your child asking for food because of their environment?
When we go by a restaurant or cafe or shopping centre, my little one usually asks for a snack! In these situations, try to be prepared either with a real snack (if it is snack time) or use this opportunity to teach your child how the food industry is trying to get your child to eat more food - with smells from the bakery, seeing other walk by with coffee/tea from the cafe, food advertisements, etc!
Being aware of our surroundings/environment can help us and our children understand why we have cravings; then we can work together to discover ways of dealing with these situations.
Is your child asking for food because they are stressed?
Is your child looking for a drug-like endorphin release from sugary foods?! Many of my patients come in with emotional eating, and feel like they are the only ones!! Likely we all struggle with this to some degree. But what we need to do is identify that your child is stressed, figure out why they are stressed, then come up with ways to de-stress! Some ideas: go for a walk, play at the park, do a puzzle together, play games, play pretend, colour or do a craft with your child.
The best approaches to de-stress (for all ages!) include: physical activity, meditation, sleep, and finding a hobby/activity to zone into. Help your child find things that make them happy and incorporate them into your child's day as often as possible!
Is your child asking for food because they are tired?
When we are tired, we tend to crave sweets far more often - because carbs are fast energy and the body knows it! The best way around this is to give your child a good balanced snack with protein and fat, and tuck them in to bed early! Examples of healthy fat options include: cheese, guac/hummus/babaghanoush/tzatziki/ and veggies, extra butter/coconut oil/avocado oil on roasted or steamed vegetables, avocado, olives, olive oil in a salad.
Or, is your child hungry?
Has it been 3 hours since your child ate last and could they be genuinely hungry? Then, yes, please feed them. :)
As always, if you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of health, Eliana