Does Your Child Eat While Watching TV? Here is Why You Should Not Encourage it -Expert Speaks


Making children eat while watching TV is not a healthy practice and expert share mechanisms to get rid of this habit.

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Does Your Child Eat While Watching TV? Here is Why You Should Not Encourage it -Expert Speaks (Freepik)

How parents choose to nourish their child profoundly influences their holistic development, encompassing both physical and emotional aspects. Mealtime presents an occasion for parents to prioritise providing sufficient and balanced nutrition, fostering healthy eating habits, managing portion sizes, and introducing a variety of foods to enhance the child’s physical health. Moreover, beyond its nutritional benefits, mealtime serves as a valuable opportunity for parents to forge emotional connections with their child. Through the act of feeding, parents can strengthen the bond with their child, nurturing a secure attachment.

Why Should Kids Not Watch TV While Eating?

India.com got in touch with an expert to understand why one should not encourage kids to eat and watch TV at the same time. Dr. Himani Narula, developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician Director & Co-founder of Continua kids Engaging in screen activities such as watching TV or using mobile devices during meals can divert children’s attention away from recognizing their hunger and fullness cues, which could result in overeating or undereating, increasing the risk of nutritional imbalances such as obesity or deficiencies. Encouraging children to concentrate solely on their food during mealtime fosters mindful eating practices, enhancing their awareness of taste, texture, and satiety.

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Eliminating distractions like television prompts children to be more attentive to their meal, facilitating a healthier attitude towards food and improved understanding of nutritional choices. Additionally, allowing screen time during meals may associate emotional comfort with such activities, potentially leading to unhealthy eating behaviors. Conversely, without screen distractions, children are more likely to make mindful food choices, making it simpler for parents to guide them towards nutritious options.

Television commercials have the ability to shape food preferences by utilizing persuasive techniques such as attractive visuals, memorable tunes, and emotionally appealing messages to create a positive image of the advertised food items. Many of these ads promote products that are high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats, potentially leading to a preference for less nutritious options among viewers. The constant exposure to such advertisements, especially for children, particularly susceptible to their influence, can significantly impact dietary decisions and overall health. Children are often targeted with ads featuring vibrant visuals, engaging characters, and promotional tie-ins, which can strongly influence their food choices. Limiting TV exposure during meals can help reduce the influence of these advertisements on food preferences and encourage healthier dietary habits.

5 Tips to Know

Encouraging responsive and nurturing feeding approaches contributes to establishing trust and emotional stability in children. Cultivating a pleasant mealtime environment is crucial for fostering a positive connection with food. A welcoming atmosphere during meals instils in children the notion that eating is a pleasurable and communal experience. Granting children the freedom to explore and enhance their self-feeding abilities encourages independence. They are introducing suitable utensils gradually and promoting self-feeding aids in bolster children’s confidence and motor capabilities. Engaging children in food-related choices, such as selecting snacks or assisting with meal preparation, nurtures their autonomy and decision-making skills.

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Mealtime often serves as a social gathering for families, offering valuable opportunities for bonding and interaction. However, the presence of screens during meals can disrupt this vital time for conversation and connection. Family meals also offer children a chance to develop social skills, manners, and communication abilities.

Imposing food consumption on a child or using food as a tool for reward or punishment can result in adverse associations with eating. It’s crucial to acknowledge and respect a child’s appetite and preferences. Establishing a relaxed and comfortable meal environment plays a significant role in fostering positive connections with food. Stressful mealtimes have the potential to lead to eating challenges or emotional difficulties.

Here are some strategies parents can implement to gradually reduce and eventually eliminate TV time during meals:

  • Establish a consistent mealtime routine that excludes TV.
  • Designate a distraction-free area for meals.
  • Lead by example and prioritize mealtime without TV, as children often mimic adult behaviour.
  •  Foster family conversation during meals to make them more engaging, reducing the temptation to watch TV.
  • If TV watching during meals is already a habit, gradually decrease the time spent on it.
  • Clearly communicate mealtime rules to children and consistently enforce them.
  • Involve children in meal preparation to spark their interest in food and enhance their sense of involvement.
  • If screen time is permitted, ensure it’s age-appropriate and doesn’t interfere with healthy eating habits.

It’s important to recognize that these suggestions can be adapted to suit individual family preferences and cultural norms. The primary goal is to cultivate a positive and mindful eating environment that supports the development of healthy habits and a positive relationship with food.

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