Not all children eat at the same speed, and while eating slowly does not necessarily cause problems - it only exhausts parents' patience - when a child eats quickly it may negatively affect their health. What are the problems that children who eat quickly have?
As we have repeated on numerous occasions, it is vital to respect the appetite of our children and not force them to eat more than their body considers necessary, since in this way they will learn from a young age to detect the feeling of satiety, something transcendental if we want avoid being overweight and obese and educate them in healthy eating and lifestyle habits.
The gastrointestinal tract provides energy for the body, in the same way that a car engine uses fuel, through digestion, a process by which the macromolecules in the food are broken down, generating small particles.
If digestion is not done properly because the child eats too fast, the necessary particles (glucose molecules, amino acids, fatty acids…) are not obtained to feed the different organs of the body. Digestion begins in the mouth, as saliva contains enzymes that begin to partially digest food, hence the tremendous importance of chewing.
Obviously, there is little we can do to control the rest of the digestive processes, but over chewing, we exercise a control that can directly affect the appearance of:
Eating quickly swallows more air. In addition, changes in digestion generate gas in the intestine, which accumulates and is terribly annoying.
By not chewing well, part of the digestion that should have taken place in the stomach is delayed and is now done in the intestine, where the environment is very different. These changes cause heavy and ineffective digestions.
- Humor changes
Eating quickly generates more adrenaline than usual and the body feels threatened. Thus, the acute stress response is stimulated, which causes digestion to slow down and even stop completely so that the body can focus all its energy on fighting the threat that the body detects. Excess adrenaline disrupts serotonin production, which affects both mood and sleep cycles.
- Nutrient malabsorption, diarrhea and / or constipation
Poor digestion causes some nutrients (vitamins and minerals) to reach the end of the large intestine as is, being excreted in the feces. On the other hand, an inadequate digestion of fats causes them to be expelled undigested and can be the cause of diarrhea, while the incorrect digestion of carbohydrates means that the fiber cannot perform its function and the stool hardens, making it more difficult to digest. expulsion.
It is clear that after being aware of the dangers that eating quickly implies for the health of the child, parents must take action. How can we change this behavior? How to teach our child to eat more slowly?
First of all, to deal with the matter, It is necessary to find out the reason for this rush to finish the meal. Probably, if a small child, more or less of preschool age (up to 6 years old) swallows practically without chewing and does not last more than a minute sitting at the table, it is because he has other things on his mind: because he was playing and we have interrupted him with lunchtime and he can't stop thinking about his game or because he knows that after eating there is something interesting (dessert, TV, park ...) that attracts him more than savoring the food - but he's hungry, that's why he eats quickly.
In these cases it is useful to set rules such as 'no one gets up from the table until the adults have finished eating', thus, the child will not be in such a hurry, because he knows that until the potatoes are finished he will not be able to go play.
Other children learn to eat quickly in the school cafeteria. Unfortunately, in relatively large schools, it is common for children to take turns, and the former, usually the youngest, are in a hurry to finish eating, because the older ones are waiting to sit at the table and time is short.
Although this is uncontrollable in the school setting, at home the little one can be reminded that it is not necessary to eat quickly. We can take advantage of this moment to talk between bites, making food a perfect time to connect as a family.
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