Controlling Your Childrens’ Eating Habits May Lead to Poor Nutrition

by Dr Naras Lapsys

Some parents enforce strict rules when it comes to eating, such as not allowing their children to leave the dinner table unless their plate is clean or restricting certain types of foods. Parents want their children to develop good eating habits, and as a result, rules like these are implemented.

Most parents don’t know they are doing more harm than good when they’re enforcing these strict rules on their children.

Negative Effects

A recent USA study,  (EAT 2010 and F-EAT) showed that children who had parents restricting them certain foods or frequently pressuring them to eat, were more likely to become overweight or had their eating habits greatly affected. According to the study, the effects were as follows:

  • When you always force children to finish the food on their plate, eventually they lose their natural “full” indicator. They’ll continue eating even after they’re full just because you told them so. This will result in the children basing their response to hunger on external factors and not on their natural response. When they develop this habit there will be a greater chance of overeating and eventually becoming overweight. This type of control interferes with the child’s perception of hunger and satisfaction.
  • When children are restricted from eating certain types of foods, these foods may become their constant craving. When they get the chance to eat them, they will make most of that opportunity and will most likely overeat.

A 2006 study by researchers Galloway and Birch, also showed the negative effect of parents controlling their children’s eating habits. This study showed that children who were forced or pressured to eat specific foods, like vegetables, would develop a strong dislike to that food. According to the study, this would eventually lead to poor eating habits.

What Parents Can Do

Parents play a large role in guiding their children to develop good eating habits. They key here is guidance. Parents must be careful to only guide their children. If they go overboard and start controlling their children this will only produce a negative outcome.

So what can parents do to properly guide their children in developing good eating habits?

  • Everything in moderation – Try not to restrict certain foods to your children. Allow them to eat anything as long as it’s in moderation.
  • Be a good role model – Kids are fond of mimicking what they see. If they see you regularly eating fruit for example, eventually they will also develop this habit.
  • Make the home environment a healthy one – If your home’s cupboards consists only of  a lot of soft drink, junk food and sweets then your children will not be inclined to  eat healthy. Have fruits, dry crackers,  nuts and vegetables at home. Make healthy food easily accessible to the family.
  • A parent’s role is to prepare balanced nutritious meals.  Never force your child to eat anything. The result would be fighting over it at the dinner table and having damaging and lasting results to your child’s eating habits. Provide them with healthy choices and allow them to make their own decisions.
  • Consult an expert – If you would like to get help from experts, then you should consult with a nutritionist in Sydney. Experience, practice and knowledge would make a nutritionist fully capable of giving you advice about your child’s nutrition. We here at The Body Doctor would be more than happy to assist on your child’s journey to good nutrition and healthy living.

Allowing children to explore food options and to make decisions will help them develop a love for food and a love for eating. When parents successfully guide their children to develop these good habits, parents will have nothing to worry about regarding their children’s nutrition.





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