Why do children eat more while watching TV?
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Does your picky eater tend to eat more when watching TV? Many parents in Florida (and I’m sure elsewhere, but this is where I practice occupational therapy) have been resorting to using television as a means to helping their children EAT MORE at meals.
This has become even more common with the emergence of work-from-home, as parents do not have the same amount of time to sit help their child eat. Instead, many children are parked on the sofa in front of the television for each and every meal, because that is what is working for their family.
Many of these parents are concerned, however, that this might not be facilitating the right mealtime behaviors.
Are you having this same concern?
When we are watching television, we are engrossed in the colors, sounds, and sight of what is going on. Thus, instead of paying attention to our meal and what we are putting into our mouth, we are focusing on what is happening on the television. Who can relate to sitting down to watch TV with a bag of chips, only to be surprised when you look down and see that it’s empty?
For picky eaters, this may appear helpful, because it takes their mind off of what they are eating by changing the focus.
But here’s my concern…
Instead of learning how to feel comfortable around “scarier” foods and promoting a positive relationship with food, using the television is really a method of distraction for eating.
It’s not something that can be carried over to a restaurant, the dinner table, or to a friend’s house.
When your child is faced with these non-preferred foods at a friend’s house, will they still be able to eat it? Will they be able to eat when they don’t like the show that is on TV?
Eating is a highly social activity. We go out to dinners to meet friends, for work lunches, and family dinners are a time for bonding. If your child is instead eating in front of the TV, are they going to miss out on these opportunities?
Further, this distraction can also take away from your child tuning into their hunger/satiety cues, leading to overeating and feeling uncomfortably full.
What can you do instead?
I prefer to promote MINDFUL eating, and helping anxious eaters become comfortable around all different types of foods. It may take a bit more time, and the quantity might not go up quite as fast, but it’s a skill that is learned, and can be used everywhere you go, not just at home.
Wondering how you can transition your child from distracted to mindful eating? Just click here and fill out this simple form to request your free parent phone consult!
Let’s make eating fun,
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