Have you noticed lately as a parent that your child’s lunch pack is always brought back exactly the way it was packed? Most at times the food barely touched or picked slightly.Your child has even been shying away from eating well at home. It is now evident to you that your child has lost appetite, and is gradually losing weight before your very eyes.Therefore there’s a need to be conversant with the various reasons for Loss of appetite:causes as a parent.
On many occasions I have seen parents go to their children’s schools to complain to the teachers about their ward’s lack of healthy appetite. You will hear a parent saying, “If he refuses to eat during break time, please force him to eat”. The parent will even encourage the teacher to scold the child in order for the child to eat. Nevertheless at the end of the day,the teacher will still have to face the brunt for making that child cry.
Moreover you may have even taken your child to the hospital for medical check ups a couple of times,there was an improvement but symptoms continued after a few days.
WE ARE GOING TO LOOK AT POSSIBLE CAUSES OF LOSS OF APPETITE AND ITS CAUSES.
1. ILLNESS: One major reason why children lose their appetite is due to ill health.When a child is sick with example malaria or typhoid that child will not have the desire to eat food or drink. Most at times the aroma of the food is always irritating to them. Though after the necessary treatment at the hospital, the child would bounce back to a healthy appetite.
2 . MONOTONOUS MEALS: Mothers are really trying, especially the working class mothers. They help keep the family together by cooking, washing making sure the home runs smoothly. Pardon me mothers; we are guilty of monotonous (repetitive) cooking for our family especially our children. Repetitive meals can make children lose their appetite easily. A particular meal always for breakfast, and another always for lunch and dinner while in some extreme cases the same meal morning, noon and night. The child knows the menu by heart, and mere thinking about it makes the child loses its appetite. I could still recall an incidence when I was still a teacher in the the middle school , there was a particular child who always brought white rice and stew(tomato sauce) to school. And I noticed that during lunch break she barely touches her meal. She would rather prefer to read while others were eating and at times she would eat only snacks (biscuits)throughout the school hours and would shy away from her main lunch .There was a day I called her,and asked why she was always trying to skip her meals. And her response was , “I am tired of eating rice and stew everyday ,I don’t like the smell”. I further enquired if she had told her mum about it,and she said no, that her mummy said that rice was easier to prepare in the mornings before she leaves for work.I felt bad for the little girl,to the extent that I had to take the matter up. I informed my immediate superior who invited and chatted up the child’s mother. Not too long ,there was an improvement and she was always looking forward to her meals during break time. Imagine other children going through the the same phase and no one to talk to or confide in.
Therefore as a parent especially mothers,we should always learn to improvise or add colour to our meals. Always make meal times exciting. Example instead of making beans the only menu for lunch. You can get bean flour (grinded beans)and make Moimoi(bean cake),Akara(bean balls),Dawanke(a bean recipe in Hausa) etc and pap for a change.Moreover instead of preparing just white rice and sauce always, you can opt for jollof rice, fried rice, rice and coleslaw,rice pudding and milk,Tuwo chinkafa (A rice recipe in Hausa). And instead of bread and tea every morning, you can get wheat flour and prepare pancakes (a very fast recipe).You can also make doughnuts or puff puff,Samosas,as breakfast and even as a snack and with this kind of innovation , your child’s appetite is sure to improve.
3. WORMS: Worms infestation in children can also be a major source of appetite loss .These worms are are parasitic in nature and they tend to feed on children’s nutrients.Most times children feel nauseous, when they see even their favourite meals and could throw up too. This could lead to severe weight loss.
4.UNHAPPINESS: Like the saying goes,“Happiness does not lie in gold or silver, but in the soul”. An unhappy child would rarely have an appetite for food or other things. For example a child who always sees his parents fighting ,the home always a battle ground will barely have a stomach for food. In some other instances a child who who has lost a loved one will surely experience loss of appetite because children are tender and sensitive beings.
5. WORRY AND FEAR: Worrying and fear, is also one of th causes of appetite loss in a child.It should never be mistaken for unhappiness .When a child is worried over an issue, either at home or in school ,it will interfere with his normal activities. This also may take a major toll on his appetite. I could still recall when I was in Elementary school (year 5). There was a girl in my class, who was much bigger and matured than the rest of us. She was a big bully.We once had an argument , and after the close of the day ,she waylaid me and ,rough handled me. She even beat me up and threatened to do worse if I reported her to the teacher. I cried so hard ,because I had never encountered such, all my life as a pupil.When I got home on that day,I couldn’t eat. I was so worried and afraid of what next she would do to me, if I told any anyone. When my mother got back from work and heard that I didn’t take dinner and I had slept early too(unlike me).She woke me up and kept asking me,”What happened in school today? What happened?” .She was so insistent that I burst in tears and opened up and told her of the bully at school. She consoled me and begged me to eat something,though i had no appetite but took very little food and slept.And first thing the next morning my mum was at my school and the rest was history.
6.HEARTBURN : This is a burning sensation in one’s chest.It is caused by stomach acid entering the gullet. Most at times some food trigger heart burns in children and as a result cause appetite loss. I have a sister who has heart burns when she takes yam.And it can go on for a long time and she would refuse to eat.But this varies in children.Some food that could trigger this in children can be carbonated drinks, spicy foods, legumes like beans etc .Parents should be vigilant to know those foods that could trigger heartburn and avoid them.
7.TEETHING: We all have went through this phase at one point or the other as babies. It happens mostly with babies when they starting hatching new tooth, they tend to lose appetite for food ,they feel irritable, crying at every slight opportunity. I don’t know if am the only one who have noticed that adults undergo “teething” too. I could recall a time when my gum, at the extreme end of my dentition was swollen. I went through great pain ,i couldn’t eat and i was feverish, and some weeks later a tooth sprout out from the gum (a new molar!).
8.ANTIBIOTICS TREATMENT: The administration or use of antibiotics on children can also hinder a child’s healthy appetite. Treatment with antibiotics has a way of dulling the taste buds,one major aftermath or effect of antibiotics is loss of appetite.
9.ANOREXIA: This is an eating disorder or problem it is common with children that are a bit grown up like teenagers.Some grown up children, that are chubby looking or on the big side,tend to skip meals excessively, thereby starving themselves which may later affect their health negatively. It is mostly common with girls,trying to withstand peer pressure. In a situation where her friends at school and even family members make fun of her, calling her (Orobo) “fatty”. And most at times they tend to permanently lose their appetites because of this excess dieting and become skinny and sickly looking.Later on,every effort to start eating normal might become futile, except by intervention of a medical practitioner. This phase of treatment will be like a rehabilitation period, which is so sad.Parents have a great role to play in the lives of these teenagers as confidence boosters.Telling your chubby teenage daughter that she is beautiful,despite her size,and guiding her on exercises the right meal and the right amount to eat.
10. GIARDIA :This is an infection of the small intestine caused by a very tiny or microscopic parasite called “GIARDIA”. Children tend to lose their appetite when they get infected by giardiases. The most common way to get giardiases is to drink infected water, through animal faeces, diaper etc. You can read more on GIARDIA from healthline https://www.healthline.com/health/giardiasis
11. ENVIRONMENT: The environment a child finds his or herself also tends to affect their appetite. If a child finds herself in an unfamiliar environment or around unfamiliar faces on the dining table, this might make the child lose her appetite for that period. The child might want to try and adjust to the new environment and it might take a toll on her eating habit. She would either pick her meals under unfamiliar scrutiny or shy away from eating.
12. DISTRACTIONS:children are easily distracted by what they see around them ,or by what is given to them. First and foremost a child that is given a snack like biscuits,sweets,candies before the main course meal, will likely pick at the meal on the dining because the appetite had been tampered with with junk food.Instead of junk foods , you could give the child fruits like oranges ,water melon carrots that would sharpen the appetite before the main meal.And a child could be distracted by his/her surrounding too, example when a Television is placed close to the dining table,the child will definitely pick on his meals while watching that interesting cartoon.
PREVENTION AND CURE TO APPETITE LOSS IN CHILDREN
Children should be dewormed regularly at least once in 3 months.
Serve them little amount of food at regular intervals.
You should not shout,force or beat them when they fail to finish their meals but encourage them lovingly.
Give them vitamins drugs which may come in form of tablet or liquid according to doctors prescription when they are on antibiotics treatment .
Avoid monotonous meals as a parent.Add colour and fun to the preparation of meals,try new things ,be artistic with baking too.
Always create an healthy environment around your home,don’t quarrel or fight in your children’s presence always try and shield them from psychological stress.
Maintain a healthy hygiene around the home to avoid the spread of infections and diseases and most of all children are fast learners,they tend to copy the good and bad habits ,please always display the good habits before them.
Always try to avoid giving your child, junk foods before the main course meal rather fruits.
Avoid meals that could be allergic to your child’s health.
Get to know your child and his friends better, at home and at school. School open days :why parents must attend
Be your child’s confidence booster.
As a parent make sure you encourage your children to get involved in physical exercises. Dangers of childhood obesity