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Food and Nutrition Topics..

You are here : home > Food and Nutrition > Eating Disorders and Compulsions > Effects of Forcing Kids to Eat

Effects of Forcing Kids to Eat

Recent studies have shown that effects of forcing kids to eat are severe and can even lead to anorexia, bulimia or obesity when they grow up. Read on to know about the effects and how you can save your child from many eating disorders later in life.

Most of the parents think that forcing their children to eat their vegetables or simply to finish their plate will help them develop a taste for healthy foods. Well, this is not true. Children also know when they are hungry and how much they want to eat.

In fact, experts are of the opinion that the way parents feed their children leaves imprints for years, even after they start their own lives. More than 70% children do not want to eat the food for which they were forced when they were kids. In reality, forcing causes kids to eat less and dislike certain food items.

Harmful Effects of Forcing Kids to Eat

Have a quick look at the harmful effects of forcing kids to eat.
  • Children feel that they do not have control on their eating habits when they are forced to eat what they do not want to.

  • Makes them more likely to over or under-eat when they grow up.

  • Eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia develop when children grow up.

  • Children find that parents have the power over their eating habits and this leads to various eating problems later on.

  • Children find themselves unable to regulate eating and this leads to obesity.

  • Since children are not allowed to have control on what they eat, they lack good self-regulation.

  • Children who do not have control on their eating tend to have strong appetite for sweets.

  • Pressuring destroys child’s natural appetite.

  • Pressuring during meal time makes them eat less.

  • Sometimes kids may vomit all the food fed them forcefully.

  • Pressuring to eat more makes them hate food.

Common Feeding Mistakes of Parents

As a parent it is obvious that you find it is your job to feed your child. So, when you place a plate full of food in front of your child and if she refuses to eat or eats few bites, you start worrying. Is she getting enough food? If she will not eat she will be starving.

With your worries you start pressuring your kid to eat with some of these techniques.
  • You feed your child even if she is old enough to eat herself.

  • Follow her around with a plate full of food in hand.

  • Demand or pressure her to eat all the food in her plate.

  • Get angry or threaten her to eat.

  • Bribe her to eat.

  • Pester her by repeatedly telling her to eat.

  • Even force food into her mouth.

Why You Should Avoid Forcing Kids to Eat?

Children, do not eat much, naturally. A child can eat less than half calories of what adults eat. Unless your child is suffering from any feeding disorder, she knows how much and when to eat. She will eat enough to stay healthy.

Researchers believe that eating less food makes even children live longer. But this does not mean that you start limiting your child’s food quantity. Just make sure that your child gets healthy and adequate food so that even if she eats less she remains healthy.

Just make sure that your child is getting enough protein, zinc, iron and other vitamins and minerals through food.

How to Stop Pressuring Your Child to Eat

The first thing that you need to find out is what triggers you into pressuring your child to eat. As a parent it is obvious that you feel worried if you think your child is not eating enough. Here you need to assure yourself that children will eat enough to remain healthy and survive, normally.

When you find tempted to pressure your child to eat, relax and take few deep breaths. You can start doing something else to distract yourself. Following behaviours are normal and you do not need to pressure your child to eat when she does something like these.

Do not get worried if your child
  • Refuses to eat meal.

  • Eats a lot for few weeks and practically cuts down on her food intake after that.

  • Eats less than her sibling or neighbour.

  • Refuses to eat certain foods.

  • Gets excited about toys or people and forgets to eat food.

What to Do Instead of Forcing Kids to Eat?

Try these techniques to make your child eat properly during meal time.
  • Eat with your child the same food.

  • Offer healthy food to your child and have patience because she will eventually have them.

  • If your child gets distracted easily, bring back her attention to food gently.

  • Just don’t worry.
You should remember that eating is different from other habits that are practiced daily. Children need to develop taste, listen to their parents and trust them. To eat a certain food item they also need to have appetite. So, you should convince your child and create such an atmosphere that helps her eat well. It is also good to introduce foods and let your child develop the taste on her own.

If you choose respecting your children and their bodies, you will start seeing the benefits almost immediately. Parents simply need to be patient and consistent by agreeing to whether their children want to eat at present or not. You will find that your children are far wiser than you had given them the credit.

How to encourage kids to eat on their own? How to avoid forcing kids to eat? What are the ill effects of forcing kids to eat? Discuss here.

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Naina.4 years ago
My childs runs away and starts crying when I start feeding him kichdi or dal rice. He is 1.5 years old. He only wants to have breastmilk. What to do?
Dhwani.4 years ago
Its not good to force kids to eat. My child's pediatrician says that what to eat mom will decide and how much to eat child will decide. Never force them to eat. They will eat when they are hungry.
Mariam.4 years ago
You are right Dhwani. I don't like to force my kid to eat but my mother-in-law feeds my kids forcefully everyday.
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