The kids requested peanut butter and jelly (PB&J) sandwich for dinner the other evening… I obliged with generous heaping of peanut butter and jelly spread meticulously on their lightly toasted slices of honey-wheat bread. My 4 year old son, Kehz, usually eats 2+ slices while his 2 year old sister, Azah, barely finishes 2 hence, 4 slices is usually enough for both to share. This time though, Kehz finished his 2 slices faster than usual and requested more. Noticed Azah was eating hers with gusto so didn’t bother taking a bit from hers as usual. Instead I toasted just one slice and split the PB&J on it. He finished it in no short time and asked for more.
I encouraged him to drink his tea (milo & milk) aka hot chocolate – for the non-Nigerians – while I made yet another 1 slice of PB&J sandwich to total his share to 4 slices. Whaddaya know? He gobbled that one too and yep, asked for MORE. At this stage, I had to relook at his adorable growing self and wonder if 4 slices of bread with condiments (PB&J) and a full cup of creamy tea is overfeeding? He is asking for more so apparently, he wasn’t satisfied/full. My decision was to hand him a banana which both pleased him and satisfied his hunger. Pheew! Azah also ate a banana after her 2 slices mostly because her brother was eating one…
This encounter amongst a few others at our kitchen table and beyond has made me more conscious of my kids food portions. I mean, even I wouldn’t eat more than 4 slices of bread in one sitting today. So, giving a 4 year old more than that doesn’t sit well with me at all. They truly are growing kids and need enough food to fuel their ever active bodies… but what balance is ideal? How do you ensure they get enough food but not overextend their tummies and leave them prone to childhood obesity, diabetes and the likes? I worry about these because it is common knowledge that a lot of kids in the US lean towards obesity. Also read that most obese kids grow to be overweight/obese adults and are prone to quite a few ailments. Now, when he is close to teenage age, I imagine he will probably eat 7 loaves of bread and 2 jars of peanut butter in one sitting. Haha. Heard teenage boys eat up a storm AND burn it all up with their super metabolism… but teenager food consumption is a totally different discussion.
My basic knowledge on obesity made me conclude that over feeding young children is child abuse. As their parents/guardians, it’s our responsibility to set them up for a healthy life to the best of our ability. Their diet is one thing within our control and starting them on balanced eating early on in life can help them make better decisions as they grow… There is no guarantee they will stick to it. However, the knowledge will be inherent to them if/when they do need it.
How about you? Do you think overfeeding is a form of child abuse? Any addition to this? Would love to hear your thoughts.
Chimmie Gbugu is the author of two children’s color boardbooks in the Igbo language (Ndu Anyi: Okigbo na Adanze and ABChD Igbo ) and informal teacher on the ‘Akwukwo LLC’ Igbo teaching YouTube Channel. She mothers’ her two active kids plus her newborn baby diligently non-stop; Engineers during the day; Travels far and wide; Bakes & cooks concoctions or rather innovatively; Teaches Sunday school; and is just dabbling into blogging.