The story appears on

Page B5

April 19, 2011

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » Health and Environment

When children are picky and won't eat

DO I feed my child the right foods and the right amount of food? How can I make sure that my child is getting good nutrition?

Every mother is concerned about her child's nutrition. Especially in light of the increasing number of children who suffer from eating disorders, obesity, allergies, constipation or diarrhea, parents put much effort and concern into the nutrition of their children in order to prevent and avoid these problems.

But what do you do if your kid is disinterested in eating and lacks appetite?

First of all, occasional loss of appetite is common in kids and generally nothing to worry about if your child is healthy in every other way: active (not overactive, though), normal size and weight, strong hair and nails. If the lack of appetite extends over several weeks, it is better to consult a doctor to make sure that your kid does not suffer from an illness.

In traditional Chinese medicine, poor appetite often signifies disharmony in the spleen system, which is responsible for the digestion and the distribution of nutrients throughout the body. Moreover, the spleen organ supports production of qi (energy) and blood, which promotes the growth of muscles and bones. Illnesses resulting from the spleen can be treated with herbal medicine and acupressure.

Disinterest in eating can also be caused by emotional discomforts. As the spleen governs the emotion "worry," anxiety about external factors often goes along with poor appetite.

When facing problems at home or school, some kids reduce their food intake to attract attention of their parents.

In most cases, children control their appetite themselves. When kids are left alone, they consume what they use for normal growth and development. Sometimes, they crave carbohydrates, sometimes proteins or vitamins depending on their state of development. It is not advisable to force kids to eat something they do not like.

Also, eating schedules for kids are different from those of adults. Usually, kids prefer small meals at flexible and sometimes odd times over three big meals at adult-appropriate times.

Depending on the amount of energy the children need during the day, they like to have multiple small snacks.

Please avoid sweetened snacks and drinks because they lead to stagnation of phlegm in the spleen system which inhibits the appetite for highly nutritious food items. Distraction from the dining table (such as computer games, TV or arguments) and insufficient sleep can also limit the intake of food.

Sometimes, it is enough to simply wait for your child's next growth period as your child needs energy and starts eating again on his/her own.

(Doris Rathgeber is founder of Body & Soul Medical Clinics.)



Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend