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Suggest ways to cut on junk foods in a child

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Pediatrician, Pulmonology
Practicing since : 2003
Answered : 7269 Questions
my 4 year old younger son prefers eating only junk food (like chocolates, chips, pizza). Please suggest how can I improve his eating habits and make him eat more home made food.
Fri, 13 Apr 2018 in Child Health
Answered by Dr. Sumanth Amperayani 37 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Suggetions on junk food habit

Detailed Answer:
Hi... I understand your concern.

Tips to reduce junk food eating -

1. Avoid all junk foods by force and do keep them in his sight.
2. Instead when he wants snacks - try to give him initially sweet corn and later replace this also by fruits.
3. Explain him that the natural foods and home made foods make him stronger than junk foods - you can explain that carrots are good for the eyes, milk has calcium for their bones etc.
4. You need to do the same and avoid eating junk by yourself (if you have the habit).
5. Try to have family food rules - Grandparents, aunts and uncles play a major role in the food decisions of a child. They are also often known to offer chocolates, chips and ice-cream to children. Have a discussion with them to get them on board your plan to restrict unhealthy food and promote consumption of vegetables and fruits—greater eating competence is associated with more health-promoting family eating patterns.
6. Don't use junk food as reward or a bribe.
7. If you give your child pocket money to purchase lunch or snacks from the school canteen, he is more likely to choose unhealthy, fat-laden junk foods as they are kept on the front display on shelves. So instead of giving money, pack your child a healthy and nutritious lunchbox and snack box separately. For snacks, you can give your child a fruit or a mix of nuts.
8. Read food labels with your child when grocery shopping and check the ingredient list. If there are more than 5-6 ingredients listed on the label, chances are the food is highly processed, so avoid purchasing it.
9. Proteins in food make one feel fuller, reduce appetite and are also known to decrease cravings for high-calorie junk foods. Plan protein-rich meals especially at breakfast to reduce junk food cravings. Foods rich in protein include milk, eggs, sprouts, soy, lentils, poultry, fish and meat.
10. To avoid consumption of junk food, it's a good trick to feed your child at regular intervals to make sure he doesn't get extremely hungry.
11. If you are a very strict parent, your child will end up eating junk food without your knowledge using the pocket money you give. So rather than having an absolute "NO" rule, set aside a day in the week where your child can eat one of his favourite foods.
12. The more variety you provide your child at home, the less likely he is going to crave junk.
13. According to a study published in the journal Sleep, those who were sleep deprived have less ability to avoid junk snacks. Make sure your child sleeps at least 7-8 hours every day. This will help them regulate their appetite too.

Regards - Dr. Sumanth
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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