Increasing your children’s appetite can be tricky, especially if they find food unappealing or are struggling to eat. However don’t stress, there are ways to inculcate healthy eating habits in them.
20 suggestions for boosting a healthy appetite in your little one
1) Compulsory breakfast
Eating a good, healthy breakfast will increase your child’s appetite.
A balanced breakfast boosts metabolism after the night ‘fast’ and gets the body working for the day.
Ensure that breakfast is a compulsory meal in your household. It’s a tried and tested formula, give it a shot!
2) Offer water 30 minutes before meal time
Children should have water first thing in the morning, even before milk. Also, they should have water half an hour before meals. These basics help a lot!
3) Feed every two hours
Children who fuss over food because they’re not too hungry should be offered food every couple of hours. The standard three meals may not be boosting their digestive system enough to make them feel hungry. Regular meals once in two hours will also help. Try it!
4) Snacks are meals
Snacks should be as good as meals if you want a better appetite. Instead of a cookie, offer a sandwich; instead of chips, offer muesli or cereal. Think of healthy replacements for snacks and notice the change in your child’s appetite.
5) Peanut is not just any nut
Peanut is sometimes called the king of nuts for its appetite-boosting and protein-building properties.
Incorporate it into your child’s food in the form of peanut butter or just fry it to be eaten as crisps.
The next time your child fusses for chips, offer him/her fried peanuts. You’ll be doing his appetite a favour.
6) Don’t make milk a meal
Many children, who have low appetites, suffer from what can be called the ‘too much milk’ problem. When children have milk as fillers, appetisers, or snacks, it kills their appetite for the next meal. Introduce dairy in other forms like cottage cheese, yoghurt, or cream.
7) Offer favourite foods
For some children with low appetite, the very sight of food might be a problem.
If such is your child’s case, try offering his/her favourite foods initially to get the metabolism running.
Healthy food can follow once your little one starts accepting the very idea of eating.
8) Offer small bites
Small bites of food build metabolism, which in turn, improves appetite. Offer smaller bites of food to your children if you think they have reduced appetite. Slowly, their want for food will increase.
You should continue offering small bites until they start eating on their own and decide on their bite-size themselves.
9) Yoghurt is a must
One cannot stress enough about how important yoghurt is for a child.
It’s a dairy product with healthy probiotics and calcium which are amazing for the appetite and immunity of the child. Yoghurt serves the purpose of a dessert as well.
10) Avoid pungent or strong food
Most children don’t enjoy extreme odours or overpowering tastes.
If low appetite is an issue with your child, check if your kitchen has food odours and/or if your food has a strong taste of Indian masalas, garlic, and so on.
Eliminate these flavours. Chances are that your child will start eating properly.
11) Use appetising spices
Oregano, cinnamon, coriander, and fennel (leaves and seeds) are all spices and herbs that aid in building an appetite. Add a dash of these here and there in your child’s food. However, ensure that these are not too visibly garnished on their plates.
12) Don’t make oily food
Traditional Indian homes have the tendency of offering ‘ghee-based’ food to children.
Unlike popular belief, such foods kill their appetite.
Go easy on fatty products and dairy since these might be the reason why your child has a low appetite.
13) Play/exercise more
It’s common knowledge that playing sports or exercising improves appetite. Don’t you think we forget this common idea when it comes to our children? If your child has a declining appetite, increase play time. You will see the hunger coming back!
14) If kids are too warm, they eat less
Yes, it’s true! If it’s too hot or suffocating in the house, appetite goes down. Place your child’s high chair or dining table near an open window for some fresh air to enter. You will notice the change.
15) Offer fresh lime juice
When your child fusses over food and says that he/she is not hungry, offer sweetened fresh lime juice, instead of water. Lime improves digestion and appetite.
16) Avoid stressful topics at meal times
Sometimes, parents discuss finances or plan the child’s school schedule during meal times as spending time together is a rarity.
Having said that, avoid stressful or serious discussions during meal times. It kills a child’s appetite.
Try talking about happy things and see him/her wipe the plates clean.
17) Increase the intake of zinc
Zinc helps in building appetite. Wheat bran, cashew nuts, and pumpkin seeds are good for improving the level of zinc in the body. Try incorporating these into your child’s meals or snacks. Check with your child’s doctor for zinc supplements as well.
18) Try homemade remedies
Try remedies like ginger juice with honey and peppermint chutneys to improve appetite. These can be made easily at home. They are great for the immune system as well.
19) Keep a food journal
Where you note things they ate on good-food days.
Ideas that worked on those days can be used for future reference.
Doesn’t hurt if a retrial works its wonder again, does it?
20) Don’t skip dessert
Fruit-based desserts can help in building an appetite. They work towards digestion and boost metabolism. Psychologically, fruit-based desserts attract children to finish their meals faster. Best appetite-boosting fruits are berries, grapes, and apples.
Got more ideas/tips that helped your child improve his/her appetite? Share the suggestion that worked for your child in the ‘Comment’ section below.
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