TV and Food Choices: Kids younger than ten, watch commercials more closely than their more cynical older siblings. Some can't even differentiate between the commercials and the programs. Nearly half of all commercials they see when watching advertise food, and an even higher percentage of food commercials are aired during children's programming. Most of those commercials aren't touting the nutritional superiority of their foods. Instead, they are selling "sweetness," "richness," "chocolatiness." They're encouraging food choices based not on physiological need, but on flavor. Of course a food has to taste good before we'll eat it, but that's just the one part of the decision to eat something. These commercials can influence your child's nutritional intake in several ways if you let it.
- Commercials influence what you buy:
- They influence the use of food for purposes other than to satisfy hunger
- The commercials seldom show the relationship between the food consumed and the impact on health.
Top those hard-to-combat influences off with the fact that TV watching is a sedentary activity that has been linked to obesity in children! There doesn't seem to be a good relationship between television watching and nutritional health, and it starts with kids. The best way to combat the problem, is to limit TV, and when it is watched, take time to analyze a commercial or two with them so your youngster can become savvy to the ways of the marketing experts. Remember, those marketing experts consulted with kids before designing their foods and commercials so your kids should catch right on.
Feeding your three to seven year old: Kids appetites will start to pick up now as they enter a period of steady growth. They will still have definite likes and dislikes, and maybe even some idiosyncratic eating behavior, like not allowing their food to touch each other on the plate. Your casual acceptance of their benign quirky behavior will ensure that they are transient. Your respect for their likes and dislikes will make them more willing to at least try new things when you ask.
Because they are bigger, they can hold more, go for longer, and so eat less often, five or fewer times per day on average. That's three squares and a couple of snacks. (An after school snack is almost as essential as a regular meal). You may see an gradual acceptance of new foods, but nothing dramatic. Many kids continue to reject unfamiliar foods and pass on the vegetables. They seem to like simple, unmixed dishes more than casseroles and they like food at room temperature rather than hot or cold. Most reject strong flavors and are discouraged from eating when portions are too big.