Don't Coerce Children to Eat
From Dr. Fuhrman's book Disease Proof Your Child:
Repeat after me: "I will not be concerned with the number of calories consumed by my child." Remember, it is the internal messages from the brain of your child, finely tuned by metabolic messages, that determine hunger. When there is a true physiologic need for calories and when they are truly hungry, they will eat. You may be able to determine what they eat by what is offered or available in your home environment, but you have almost no ability to force your children to consume more food than their own internal drives tell them they need.
It is especially difficult to get a baby or toddler to overeat. Most young ones will push food away when they are not hungry. By bribing, coaxing, tempting, and teaching our little ones to constantly stuff down a few more bites, they are learning to ignore their body's correct hunger and satiation signals. Over time, and with the help of "fake food" made with artificial flavors and concentrated sweeteners, it is very common for children to become chronic overeaters.
We are designed to consume a diet rich in natural plant fibers and micronutrients. This fiber (bulk) causes stretch receptors in the digestive tract to register that we have consumed enough food. When we eat processed food, which is high in calories and has little fiber, the body's natural satiation mechanism is fooled and we overeat. Appetite can also be driven by taste. The artificially high stimulation of taste with concentrated sweeteners and artificial flavors can make humans eating machines without constraints.
Man-made, high calorie concoctions, designed to appeal to the taste and mindset of children, are chemical inventions created to attract consumption, and do not contain the nutrients needed for good health. Besides containing insignificant amounts of nutrients, they also contain potentially dangerous ingredients such as artificial food colorings and chemical preservatives. In addition, processed foods may also contain trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, other concentrated sweeteners, white flour, butter and nitrates. Heavily baked, smoked, or barbequed foods produce heat-formed by-products with detrimental carcinogenic effects. Parents have allowed the processed food and fast food industry to penetrate the minds and bodies of children like a cult, stealing away the health potential of our children.