Monday morning, Erica Branz of Branz Nutrition Counseling, LLC joined Mary in studio to share tips for talking to your kids about food in the summertime. To start, Branz shared why your kid might be asking for more snacks than usual.
- INCREASED ENERGY DEMAND = HIGHER NEEDS:
If your child is more active during the summer months with camps, swimming, etc, than usual, this could increase their overall energy needs.
- GOING THROUGH A GROWTH SPURT:
Children are consistently growing, though the rate at which they grow varies over time. These are normal, and children will respond accordingly with an increase in appetite to support their bodies’ growing needs.
- UNCERTAINTY AROUND WHEN NEXT EATING TIME MAY BE AVAILABLE
This is common during the summer months, when children move from a predictable eating routine in their school schedules to a more lax rhythm without the structure that school provides. Without an understanding of when food is coming, kids will take it upon themselves to find it or will ask constantly out of uncertainty or when food is coming next.
- BOREDOM OR NEED FOR EMOTIONAL CONNECTION:
Food offers a tangible form of comfort and safety. This is normal and natural. For many kids during the summer months, they may seek out food more frequently to help meet an emotional need or to provide stimulation, especially if they are feeling dysregulated - either overstimulated or under stimulated. Many kids may not have the language to communicate what they need emotionally, and so they may express feeling hungry or wanting to eat more frequently in an attempt to self-soothe or stimulate.
- PREOCCUPATION WITH A SPECIFIC FOOD:
If a child is fixated on having a specific type of food, like sweets or a packaged snack, this can be exhibited as frequent requests for these foods. Again, children that may not have the language to communicate what they’re feeling and experiencing. However, a high interest in certain foods or with eating in particular may indicate that the child needs increased access to the foods they’re seeking out or frequently asking about. Even if a child has enough to eat, if they’re fixated on eating certain foods and those foods are not regularly made available, this will manifest as frequent requests for those foods.
Branz explains that the overall goal when talking to your child about food and with navigating more frequent food requests is to diffuse any shame around your child’s appetite and prevent guilt from forming around eating certain foods, as well. In order to do so, this will require you to tune in to any triggers that might be coming up for you. Saying yes to your child’s food requests more frequently can make it easier to say no to their requests later. Examine your reasons for saying no to your child’s food choices and requests and whether or not there is a hidden agenda here that may be hindering your child’s relationship with food and ability to listen to their body.
You can learn more about Branz Nutrition by visiting www.branznutritioncounseling.com.