Problem #1. Selectivity in food
This is a conscious refusal or restriction of the consumption of certain products. A person may not like, for example, the color of food, size, smell, taste, texture. Or he is scared off by a past negative experience (for example, he vomited after eating). In extreme cases, the diet is limited to 5 products. Most often, this disorder occurs in children and passes with age.
Here are the main reasons for the appearance of this disorder: physiological (the body may not digest some food); emotional (non-acceptance of food that is associated with some negative emotions); social (for example, religious prohibitions on food); personal (individual prohibitions on any food, vegetarianism).
First of all, it is necessary to exclude the baby’s medical health problems, which include:
diseases of the upper gastrointestinal tract (diseases of the oral cavity, esophagus, stomach);
intestinal diseases (chronic constipation, inflammatory bowel diseases);
a long-term illness that has affected the interest in food and the ability to eat (hereditary, metabolic, endocrine, systemic diseases);
taking medications that can dull the sense of taste;
some special conditions (for example, autism).
Selectivity in food and a limited diet is a common problem in children with autism, but it occurs not only in them. For example, for children 2-3 years old, fastidiousness in food is quite natural. The problem of excessive selectivity in food in children with autism most often leads to a serious limitation of the diet, the child can refuse almost all food. There are only some or strictly defined types of foods that they agree to eat (such children are not bad about vegetables and fruits, they like milk). Also, autistic kids require meticulous observance of all kinds of rituals related to the food itself and meals. Moreover, if ordinary «picky little eaters» eventually outgrow their problem or at least begin to expand their diet on their own, a child with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) is not able to cope with it alone.
There are several ways to help the baby in this situation.
Give positive reinforcement. After the child tries a piece of unusual or unloved food, it is worth reinforcing his «feat» with praise, a treat, access to favorite toys or activities.
Show your attitude to whims. This is also called «quenching», which includes intentionally ignoring the undesirable behavior of the child during the meal (tantrums, leaving the table, throwing food) and providing positive attention in a situation where the child behaves properly, calmly eats what you offer.
Play a little with the baby. Try to «feed» his favorite toy with him. Allow the child to play with the food, make a funny face out of the products, pick it up with a fork or roll it out with a rolling pin. Use bright and funny cutlery and dishes. Make a special «glory plate», attach a plastic plate to the refrigerator and paste on it every new type of food that the child decided to try. Allow the child to participate in cooking.
Serve a new meal in a familiar environment. Another behavioral strategy is mixing your favorite food and a new, or unpleasant, combination of a small portion of a new product and a large amount of your favorite food (for example, 10% new and 90% favorite).
Make a special schedule and mark on it every time the child decided to try something new. Choose a goal and move towards it with the child. After reaching it, you can arrange a party at which you will be treated only to the food that your baby likes.
Why are babies «on strike»?
The reasons for refusing food differ in children of different ages. In infants , this is:
unpleasant sensations in the oral cavity. With teething, inflammation in the throat, it hurts the child to chew food and even swallow liquid, so he refuses to eat and begins to cry;
shortness of breath. If the baby does not clean his nose in time, the congestion will make it difficult to breathe while sucking the breast or nipples. A similar situation is typical during the cold period;
problems with applying to the breast (tight or retracted nipple, little milk);
bloating and colic;
when introducing complementary foods, parents may overfeed the child and not maintain the interval between meals.
Problem #2. Poor appetite
First of all, health problems should also be excluded: diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, acute infections. You just need to wait out this period, change your diet to a lighter and more digestible one. Offer your child his favorite dishes.
Why can a baby not have an appetite? It often happens that he does not want to have lunch or dinner, because between the main meals he picked up sweets, chips, soda and other junk food. If the baby has nowhere to put energy, then the body will automatically reduce its need for food. The child needs to «work up an appetite». Outdoor games are what you need. The more often, longer and more actively the child spends his leisure time, the better it will be for his body and appetite. Mental activity can also tire and make you want to eat, so read, solve puzzles and guess riddles.
If the baby does not want to eat in the hot season, do not panic. In some cases, it is simply necessary to give the child water during the day, and when the heat subsides, his appetite will certainly wake up. It is only important not to overfeed him before going to bed.
How to help a caprice to regain a normal appetite?
Gradually remove the «harmfulness» from the baby’s diet. The reason for the selective refusal of food may be the elementary spoilt nature of the child: all his life he was allowed to eat chocolate, ice cream, sandwiches, did not observe the diet, etc., and then suddenly decided to switch to healthy foods. Naturally, the kid will not support such an innovation and, most likely, will simply arrange a strike. Therefore, act gradually.
Give him time. There are some children who, without any diseases, eat little or practically do not want to eat. They have individual peculiarities of metabolism. After all, one child’s digestion is faster, nutrients are absorbed and absorbed faster, while others have a slower process. Just offer food unobtrusively. You can, again, treat your favorite bear or bunny to begin with. Or decorate the food so that the baby could not resist and wanted to try. There are a lot of funny food design options.
Limit your child’s communication with gadgets and TV. Internet addiction leads to a significant decrease in appetite, the child is completely immersed in the virtual world and cannot «break away» from the computer to eat. Unsupervised watching of movies and shows on TV is also no better.
Thin as death
Anorexia nervosa is an extreme degree of refusal to eat. It happens mainly in teenage girls when they are convinced that they are fat or strive to be like someone else. If food does not enter the body in time, the gastric mucosa becomes irritated and nausea appears instead of the need to eat. In this case, offer the child lighter and healthier foods (salads, boiled meat, fruits, milk). If the girl refuses to eat this, then starvation becomes a pathological symptom of a mental illness that leads to disability.
Problem #3. Overeating
This is an eating disorder characterized by uncontrolled intake of excessive amounts of food. Simply put, gluttony. At the same time, there is a constant excess of calories obtained from food over real energy needs.
Regular overeating leads to weight gain. A child who looks different from everyone else risks having problems with peers and self-esteem.
With obesity come various diseases: metabolic disorders, high blood sugar and cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, skin rashes, destruction of tooth enamel and poor eyesight. Your back and joints may start to hurt, because the weight gained is an extra load.