Kids, Lockdown and Food!
If there is one thing that parents are all agreeing on during this recent lockdown and the ones before is that the kids never seem to stop wanting to eat snacks.
The moans and cries of “I’m hungry” are echoing across the land and the eternal challenge about whether or not to give them anything and what on earth to make for dinner is now more acute than ever.
So here are a few ideas and thoughts about kids, lockdown, and food!
Hunger and Boredom
For a lot of adults, food is entertainment and when we are bored we are often tempted to eat. Kids snacks are just the same. Eating provides a welcome distraction from, not only boredom, but the work we must do too.
Home-schooling does create quite a strong focus on any child’s work and having a snack is always going to be a welcome distraction. It’s just like offering to do a tea round at work when we are trying to put off that rather large spreadsheet that won’t concatenate itself.
On top of the boredom and distraction factor it has been pretty cold recently too. Many areas of the UK had a lot of snow. Cold weather can make us hungrier, it’s a natural way of making sure we have enough substance to survive a winter! Thirdly, they are growing a body! Bones, muscle and those wonderful brains need lots of calories so it’s no wonder they think about food so much.
When they are at school, they are more distracted by the goings on but at home the call of the stomach can be heard a lot more and they vocalise that to the parents or care givers.
To Feed or Not to Feed?
Well, it’s a tough one, no one wants to see a child going hungry, but putting some lines in the sand is important in building a healthy relationship with food.
Snacking on request is not a great idea. Instead, base treats and kids snacks around completing work, doing some house tasks or getting out for that daily walk regardless of the weather. If they are hungry then they can finish the work they are on and enjoy a snack afterwards.
There are some suggestions that reward based food can have a negative affect on a child’s relationship with food but there are many who think it works very well. Take kids snacks on a walk rather than having them in front of the TV. There are not hard and fast rules, but keeping things in your control is really useful and it really isn’t a good idea just to let them eat anything they want whenever they want. Another option is a set amount of snacks per day and they can choose how and when they eat them!
What to Cook?
Fussy eating is a real challenge for anyone looking after children. Their taste buds change over time but the habits born from an early experience can stop them liking something for years.
There are no doubt millions of parents across the UK wishing they could cook something a little more exotic and eat as a family. Food types like varying Curries are packed full of healthy spices and are a wonderful way of eating vegetables, as well as being naturally veggie without the need for fake meats. But getting a 5 year old to tackle a curry can be tricky. Almara Miah from Zari in Crawley runs Indian cooking courses as well as the restaurant and she says:
“Indian food can be super healthy, and the flavours are a lot of fun. My top tip for bringing kids into eating it is to get them to help with the cooking. Once they are involved they are far more likely to want to try it. Also…avoid the hot stuff, no matter how much you enjoy it.”
The concept of getting kids to help with cooking can be daunting but it’s a great home schooling lesson, it’s generally good fun and it will get them trying new things. There are some great ingredient subscription boxes out there too, these come with everything you need, and recipe cards kids seem to really enjoy getting in on.
The great challenge for anyone looking after children! Making sure they get a healthy and balanced diet can be tricky. Sure, lots of people say their kids love carrot sticks and fruit, and that’s great, but some kids really struggle. Not liking something is OK sometimes.
The key is not to put too much pressure on things. Children’s bodies are quite good, and telling them what they need and forcing food on them can cause negative effects. Keep things relaxed. Make food fun. Have lots of different fruits on hand to try, along with lots of veg. They will be fine!
As we move out of lockdown and back to school some of the food issues may return to normal. But, healthy eating and trying new things will be an ongoing challenge that can be beaten! Getting them involved in cooking and choosing food can help a lot, keeping things light and fun works too!
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