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What Poor Eating Habits Lead To

Submitted by Stella Morgan on December 14, 2010

Poor eating habits in children

One of the growing concerns faced by several parents across the United States is getting their kids to develop good eating habits. Unfortunately, due to the hectic lifestyles in today’s world, many parents realize that their children have developed unhealthy eating habits, only after it is too late. Most of us associate poor eating habits in children, with the excessive consumption of foods that have little or no nutritional value. However, poor eating habits include much more than dietary preferences. Practices like eating in front of the television, talking with a mouth full of food, gobbling or eating in a hurry, skipping meals, eating only a limited variety of foods and drinking soda instead of water with meals all contribute towards poor eating habits.

There could be certain negative effects of poor eating habits in children. Some children can suffer from some major health concerns, such as malnutrition, low immunity, deficiency of certain nutrients, obesity or eating disorders such a Pica, anorexia or binge eating.

It is quite easy and convenient to blame the child’s friends or even the school for the development of poor eating habits.

However, every parent should understand that eating habits in children develop right from the time that they are infants. Hence, parents who introduce healthy and nutritious foods right at the beginning, instead of puddings and desserts, are setting the right path for the development of good dietary preferences. Other rituals followed during meal times with infants and toddlers are also usually continued as they get older.

For example, child who is used to being fed while he is seated in one place, (like a high chair) right from the beginning, is unlikely to run around during mealtimes, even in the later stages of life. Parents who discourage their toddlers from watching TV while they eat may not need to do so, once the child grows older. Even other factors, like chewing the food at the right pace, need to be taught to children as early as possible.

How to get rid of poor eating habits?

Every parent needs to remember that children need to be encouraged to develop healthy and good eating habits. Using force could sometimes really get them to dread mealtimes with their parents. Therefore it is best for a parent to find other modes of reinforcement that will help the child be interested in making the transition towards healthy eating habits. Parents can start by setting a regular schedule, which includes small but frequent meals throughout the day. Apart from breakfast, lunch and dinner, the child should have room for at least 3 snacks in between. Also the size of each portion should be considered carefully. It is best to start off with a small portion, where the child can ask for more in case they are still hungry. A portion that is too big will either cause them to overeat or waste food, both of which are unhealthy. Since children tend to ask for more than their body needs, when it comes to their favorite foods, it is up to the parent to gauge if they are still hungry or are only eating for the sake of it. Other healthy eating habits are all a part of good table manners, which should be taught early but should be practiced at home on a long term basis.

The changes that our collective lifestyles and cultures have undergone over the last few years have caused a drastic shift in our eating habits. Emulating their parents, children have started to inculcate bad eating habits. These habits continue through school and then through high school and then college, and the quality of the diet keeps deteriorating.
It is well known that poor eating habits can easily lead to obesity. Obesity, both in children and adults, has led to a proportional increase in the incidences of lifestyle diseases. Research has shown that children who have poor eating habits, continue with the same habits throughout their life. In fact, the habits become more pronounced as the children grow into adults and then become a part of the family lifestyle.

The relationship between good food and health is very simple. Obesity caused due to improper eating habits has now taken epidemic proportions. A meal should consist of different food groups. You may not be eating a lot of junk or unhealthy food; however, not keeping a balance between the different food groups is also categorized as having bad food habits. There are, for instance, many health problems related to excessive consumption of sugar. Some of the common health ailments associated with unhealthy eating, are diseases of the gums, heart, and muscles. In addition, there can be vision loss issues, impairment of hand eye coordination, problems in focusing and concentration, decrease in mental acuity, short term memory loss, and finally, anorexia.

To maintain the healthy functioning of the body, a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals is required. If you do not receive these through your meals, you may need to take supplements. When the body gets used to unhealthy foods, the functioning of the body no longer remains optimum. As a result, you get tired quickly and there is a decreased resistance to diseases. Resent research has also brought to light the fact that unhealthy eating habits can alter the genetic makeup of a person. In fact, a recent journal reported that a sugar hit can be remembered by genes for a longer period of time than was thought possible. When poor eating habits become chronic, they permanently alter the genetic material. This genetic material is then inherited by the offspring and the mutations or genetic disorders are also manifested in their body. Further studies have shown that there are increased signs of stress and depression in those who have poor eating habits or eating disorders.

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