Restricting Children’s Diets

 

 

 

Obesity is a hot topic in our society and rightfully so. Specifically the topic of Childhood Obesity. The results are that schools are changing their food options, parents are reading more labels and many parents are even cutting foods out of their children’s diets. But is this ok?

A recent article {below} looked into this very subject. They set out with many questions, 2 of which were What are the effects on a child’s psychological attitude towards food after being “presured-to-eat” or on a food “restriction” diet, as well as What are the physiologically effects of children who are a product of these types of diets.

To understand the results, we must first understand the questions. A “pressured-to-eat” diet is one in which a child isn’t allowed to eat until they finish everything on their plate, just as an example. A “restriction” diet is one in which an entire food or group is restricted from the child’s diet.

The study showed that although both of these theories and practices are most often done with good intentions for the well being of the child, they actually reap poor benefits. In fact, the study showed that children who grew up on these types of diets actually had an increased chance of becoming obese as adults. One of the biggest reasons for this is due to the fact that children are not taught to view food as fuel but rather “good” or “bad”. Therefore, emotion is tied to food and in a society which is overwhelmed with stress and emotion, this is not a good thing.

Another reason why these diets do not reap good results is because of the feeling of failure that children receive from their parents from wither not finishing their food, or from eating a food that is not allowed. Children due to their lack of ability to be as logical as adults, struggle in coping with the relationship effects of going against what their parents teach them. The results is the risk of eating disorders for both sets of children. “Pressure-to-eat” diet children have an increased risk for developing bulimia. “Restriction” diet children have an increased risk of developing orthoexia.

So what then can be done to teach children healthy eating n a way that does not risk their future health? First off, this article suggests teaching children that food is fuel. If food can be looked at as fuel 80% of the time, children can be emotional about food the rest of the time without negative nutritional effects. The other suggestion is that if you are going to  limit certain food groups such as sugar and salt, do so only some days such as weekdays. This way, it is understood from everyone that food is only used as fuel on days x, y and z. On the other days, limited foods can be enjoyed reducing the risk of children hiding food, their emotions about food, or binging on these items.

As someone who has experience with this topic, I found this article extremely helpful and insightful. I just couldn’t pass up writing about it today.

Do you agree or disagree with this?

What has been your experience with this subject?

If you want to take a look at this article, here is the link: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/04/16/peds.2012-3073.full.pdf+html

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