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Eating Habits of Children With Arthritis

Get tips for dealing with eating issues for your child with arthritis.

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Barbara Warady, RD, senior clinical nutritional specialist at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., offers parents these tips to help kids with juvenile arthritis dealing with depressed or elevated appetite issues.

Low Appetite

  • Try to feed your child six times a day (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack or after school snack, dinner and evening or bedtime snack).
  • If your child doesn’t want to eat, encourage her to try to take a few bites. If she refuses, wait until the next planned meal or snack. She’s more likely to be hungry and will eat better.
  • Avoid food battles so eating remains an enjoyable activity. Sometimes placing more attention on the situation will only make a kid dig his heels in even more and turn down food.
  • Offer healthy food choices. Avoid the urge to let her eat anything just to put on weight.
  • Encourage your child to sit at the table for all feedings, including snacks, with eating as the sole activity (i.e., no TV). Discourage grazing (letting kids eat whatever and whenever they want throughout the day). This can lead to an unbalanced diet that may stress sweets or grains found in chips and crackers at the expense of other food groups.
  • Kids with low appetite problems may need to take nutritional supplements. Work with a dietician to make sure your child is getting all the calories and nutrients he needs.

High Appetite

  • Realize that keeping high fat snacks at home for other kids in the family may be too much of a temptation for your child with arthritis.
  • Encourage your child to sit at the table for all feedings, including snacks, with eating as the sole activity (i.e., no TV). Discourage grazing (letting kids eat whatever and whenever they want throughout the day). This can lead to an unbalanced diet that may stress sweets or grains found in chips and crackers at the expense of other food groups.
  • Don’t deprive kids of snacks; just make sure you’re offering nutritionally smart options. For a healthy snack choose foods from two food groups: fruit and yogurt, an apple and peanut butter, half a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread. One afternoon snack is recommended, but not two or more.
  • If your child has weight gain issues due to long-term steroid use consider consulting a dietician who may be able to suggest new and different food choices for your him to try. When starting a steroid regimen see a dietician early on for tips to prevent weight gain, instead of waiting until large gains occur.
  • Encourage activity. Follow the recommendations for exercise and activity developed by your health care team.
 

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Eating Habits of Children With Arthritis

Get tips for dealing with eating issues for your child with arthritis.


Barbara Warady, RD, senior clinical nutritional specialist at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., offers parents these tips to help kids with juvenile arthritis dealing with depressed or elevated appetite issues.

Low Appetite

  • Try to feed your child six times a day (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack or after school snack, dinner and evening or bedtime snack).
  • If your child doesn’t want to eat, encourage her to try to take a few bites. If she refuses, wait until the next planned meal or snack. She’s more likely to be hungry and will eat better.
  • Avoid food battles so eating remains an enjoyable activity. Sometimes placing more attention on the situation will only make a kid dig his heels in even more and turn down food.
  • Offer healthy food choices. Avoid the urge to let her eat anything just to put on weight.
  • Encourage your child to sit at the table for all feedings, including snacks, with eating as the sole activity (i.e., no TV). Discourage grazing (letting kids eat whatever and whenever they want throughout the day). This can lead to an unbalanced diet that may stress sweets or grains found in chips and crackers at the expense of other food groups.
  • Kids with low appetite problems may need to take nutritional supplements. Work with a dietician to make sure your child is getting all the calories and nutrients he needs.

High Appetite

  • Realize that keeping high fat snacks at home for other kids in the family may be too much of a temptation for your child with arthritis.
  • Encourage your child to sit at the table for all feedings, including snacks, with eating as the sole activity (i.e., no TV). Discourage grazing (letting kids eat whatever and whenever they want throughout the day). This can lead to an unbalanced diet that may stress sweets or grains found in chips and crackers at the expense of other food groups.
  • Don’t deprive kids of snacks; just make sure you’re offering nutritionally smart options. For a healthy snack choose foods from two food groups: fruit and yogurt, an apple and peanut butter, half a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread. One afternoon snack is recommended, but not two or more.
  • If your child has weight gain issues due to long-term steroid use consider consulting a dietician who may be able to suggest new and different food choices for your him to try. When starting a steroid regimen see a dietician early on for tips to prevent weight gain, instead of waiting until large gains occur.
  • Encourage activity. Follow the recommendations for exercise and activity developed by your health care team.