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Food Restriction To Prevent Child Obesity: When Is It Too Much?

Will you not let your kids eat ANY of this?

Because you are worried that your kids will have TOO MUCH of this?


There is an overweight/obesity epidemic in children. Pushed in our faces on a regular basis. Is it no wonder that as a parent we could be obsessed or even paranoid that our infant, toddler, child or teenager could become overweight or obese?  Worried that our child will be part of the obesity epidemic statistics?  So much that we restrict their diets in an unhealthy way? Thinking we are keeping our kids healthy by not allowing them to have any candy, fast food or soda.  Or giving skim milk for our toddlers because it has no fat. Not allowing any fried foods.  No fast food.  Or just making too many comments at the table like “Are you really still hungry?”  “Don’t you think you have had enough?”  It is understandable to be concerned. But there is a fine line between supporting healthy, normal eating to becoming obsessed with our kids’ eating plans.  We are in America for the summer, in New Jersey to be exact, and I can understand how a parent thinks they are doing the right thing and could restrict their child’s foods so they stay skinny and lean. America has it all: huge food portions, too much fast food, too many sugary drinks.  Way too many overweight and obese kids around.  Almost shocking for me, a cultural eye opener from living overseas.  Here at the beach, lake or pool you see young boys with breasts.  Girls with pot bellies.  This is not a criticism, I am genuinely empathetic and concerned for these kids. It is difficult as a parent to know the right balance between letting your kids enjoy some “unhealthy foods” with keeping them in a normal weight.  Do you feel it is challenging to turn out a healthy, lean child in these times in America?  Or the United Kingdom? Or in whatever country you are from? Do you think you restrict your child’s dietary intake too much but cannot help it?  What is normal eating to you?   See here one response, written by Ellyn Satter, Registered Dietitian:

Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it-not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating is mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful. Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life. In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings.

Love that statement.  A great way to summarize normal eating in kids and adults.  Do you agree?  Striking that balance in your family on normal eating is important. Too much food restriction can be harmful to your childrenSee my article on feeding toddlers skim milk.  This is a potential unhealthy dietary practice that some parents do to help their children stay “skinny.”  Do you disagree with me?  Shout out your feedback in the comments section below.

Until then, Buon Appetito to You and Your Loved Ones!

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4 Responses to Food Restriction To Prevent Child Obesity: When Is It Too Much?

  1. Siddesh August 10, 2012 at 22:28 #

    Every parent should go through this article for a clear information on normal eating. Most parents live in the extremes. Either they allow their kid to eat freely or restrict completely. Both attitude is dangerous. The first lesson they should teach their kids is to respect food for its importance in not only building their body but future also. An unhealthy body can’t sustain a healthy mind and so a healthy personality. Yes, exception is there but in most cases, we can find a lot of unhealthy kids doing poor performance in life.


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