Does it seem like your child is constantly hungry – even though they just ate?
As most of you know I have a four and half year old little girl, Isabella who just started “Junifer Infants”.
Between outside playing with friends this summer, the sunshine growth spurts and now starting BIG school she seems to be ALWAYS hungry these days.
Sometimes I feel like I am trapped in a cycle of preparing lunches, making snacks, cleaning up, making dinner, cleaning up !! It is relentless.
Or worse yet mortified, when upon entering anybody else’s house my child declares starvation and asks if they have anything nice to eat?!?!
I would suggest if you notice a big change in your child’s eating pattern or appetite perhaps consult with the GP, but assuming everything is ok here are a few things I have discovered that may be the cause of the hunger and most importantly how we can tackle it.
The current meals & snacks are not filling enough
A lot of the pre-prepared kids snack foods ( dunkers, sugary granola bars, teddy bear biscuits etc) & “white/beige” foods ( sliced bread, little bread rolls, crackers pastries) do provide calories but very little fulfilment or nourishment. Kids tend to eat them quickly, but never feel fully satisfied. It is better to try foods higher in protein and fibre with a slower release of energy like oat based homemade cereal bars, fruit & vegetables, nut and seed butters and some full fat dairy.
A lot of kids cannot fully decipher the difference between hunger and thirst so after a busy day playing and exploring most forget to drink and become a little dehydrated. When Isabella runs in after playing and declares starvation I always offer her the beaker of water (or squash – our vice) first and then say “right, what will we get you to eat ? “. I use the contigo range. I first came across them on holidays in the states and couldn’t believe my luck when I found them in TK Max here. They are BPA free, no leaks and it has a cute button that pops up the spout (so its hidden & kept clean). Water flavoured with fresh fruit is colourful and tasty and kids love it.
Sometimes, just like grown ups children eat mindlessly when they are bored, or maybe even worried or nervous. A a parent this can be a tricky one to work out. Ask some questions and use some common sense – if they just ate twenty minutes ago it is probably not hunger. A good old trick is to always have the fruit bowl visible and accessible and offer a piece of fruit first. If they are really hungry the apple or pear will be acceptable and they will go on their merry way. Also try to have regular snack times in order to prevent “grazing”. The practice of grazing just leads to a continual desire to eat something and then the kids are never really hungry enough to fully enjoy their dinner and get satisfaction from it. In some cases it can be curiosity – what do other people have to eat, what do new foods taste like. Allow kids to taste and explore new foods with little or no expectation and you may be pleasantly surprised.
This September, as we began the wardrobe re-shuffle, I discovered Isabella had grown about 3cm this summer. I firmly believe the sunshine Vitamin D really helps. Obviously these growth spurts lead to higher energy intake requirements so this really is one of the genuine causes of hunger. In this instance, be sure to offer snacks and meals high in protein ( adults need 8 and children need 10 essential amino acids -they are essential because the body cannot synthesis them so we must get them from food), calcium and good fats. Foods like a nut or seed butter on wholegrain crackers is great, or some cheese or avocado.
With Fun & Deliciousness,
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