Some good steps I think

I have to admit that I really liked the phrasing and suggestions given in this article in the New York Times “6 Food Mistakes Parents Make“.  I started to read it with a cringing fear that it would quickly become 6 tips about calories and obesity, etc.  The first thing that kept me reading was:

Although obesity dominates the national discussion on childhood health, many parents are also worried that their child’s preferred diet of nuggets and noodles could lead to a nutritional deficit.

Okay, cool.  A mainstream media article admitting that the obsession over obesity might not be what is most worrisome in view of possible nutritional deficiency.  Check, I’m with you.  What are the tips?  Wow, those actually seem like good ideas!  I can’t really speak to how effective any of the 6 suggested tips for trying to introduce your child to new foods actually might BE (having no children of my own) I have to say that I LOVED tips 4 and 5.

Mistake 4: Dieting in front of your children.

“By exposing young children to erratic dieting habits, parents may be putting them at risk for eating disorders or a lifetime of chronic dieting. “Most mothers don’t think their kids are soaking up this information, but they are,” Dr. Birch said. “They’re teaching it to their daughters even though it doesn’t work for them.”” (Emphasis mine)

For once, someone else (outside of the fat-o-sphere) has brought up the reality that Diets DON’T WORK and the harmful side-affects that dieting could have on impressionable children.

Tip 5 was also a nice change from the usual calorie-counting rhetoric.

Mistake 5: Serving boring veggies.

“Calorie-counting parents often serve plain steamed vegetables, so it’s no wonder children are reluctant to eat them. Nutritionists say parents shouldn’t be afraid to dress up the vegetables. Adding a little butter, ranch dressing, cheese sauce or brown sugar to a vegetable dish can significantly improve its kid appeal. And adding a little fat to vegetables helps unlock their fat-soluble nutrients.”

I’d have to count on those of you out there with children to speak to the efficacyof the suggestions given throughout the article but to me this is a nice step in a good direction; one that leads to teaching children early on how to eat intuitively and a variety of foods instead of teaching dieting behaviors and fear of food.

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9 thoughts on “Some good steps I think

  1. A lot of this makes sense to me. My 2.5yo is a picky eater- but replace ‘all chocolate diet’ with ‘all fruit’. She does try new things (especially if we don’t make a big deal about it), and manages to hit all the food groups on most days.

    For us it hasn’t been a matter of teaching her how to eat intuitively- I think she has a much better sense of intuition than I do. I make a range of foods available to her and she chooses to eat them, or not. Mealtimes are pretty relaxed at home, without any cajoling, or refusing, or ultimatums, or tantrums. But extended-family meals are hard. My mother and sister both take a “three more bites of X and then you can have Y” approach.

    Now if I could just convince her that “No, Thank you. Can I have a banana please?” will diffuse this situation much faster than “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I DOOOOON’T LIIIIIIKE IIIIIIIIITTT”

  2. Indeed. I also liked, “Parents worry that children will binge on treats, so they often put them out of sight or on a high shelf. But a large body of research shows that if a parent restricts a food, children just want it more. […C]hildren whose food is highly restricted at home are far more likely to binge when they have access to forbidden foods.”

    Oooh yeah. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.

  3. I KNEW there was a reason why I always have butter or olive oil with my veges – its to unlock those fat soluble nutrients. Yeah thats it. Fat soluble nutrients. mmmm hmmmm.

  4. A lot of researchers and people who cry “childhood obesity epidemic!” forget that there are many children out there who have texture issues, due to autism, Aspberger’s, or other unknown causes, where they just can’t eat certain foods or they will have awful gag reflexes.

    But I’m glad this article was not what I thought it was going to be. I feared clicking on it because I also thought it would be about counting calories and putting children on diets.

  5. The only one that gives me qualms is the ‘don’t put food out of reach’ idea. Sure, in a ideal world, but if you’re on a tight budget it just doesn’t work. If eating a snack now means stealing from lunch tomorrow, giving a child a free hand in the cupboards might be a bad plan.
    I’m still conditioned now to ask whether such-and-such a food is ‘for eating’ when I’m at my parents house, for exactly that reason. For a long time when I was a child, we couldn’t afford to buy food twice. We could barely afford to buy it once. So I was well trained to ask permission before snacking on something, in case it was meant for dinner.
    I can see the reasoning behind the advice, but I don’t like advice that will make poor parents feel guilty because they can’t afford to raise their kids ‘right’.

  6. “The lesson for parents? Don’t bring foods that you feel the need to restrict into the house. Instead, buy healthful snacks and give children free access to the food cabinets.”

    The full explanation is fine, but the pithy summary pricks my advice-for-rich-people sensors.
    I mean, sometimes bread is a food you feel the need to restrict. Expensive multigrain cereal bars? Yep, those are going to be restricted.

  7. Froth ~ I hadn’t considered the implications of that, which is odd considering I grew up in a household that often had to restrict foods for cost reasons. I think a better summary for that tip might have been along the lines of “Don’t restrict only foods you deem “bad” if restriction is necessary” to get to the point that while holding aside items that might be for a later meal is one thing, holding aside only “unhealthy” snacks but not “healthy” ones is another. Thanks for bringing the point up!!

  8. Pingback: Hey there « I AM in shape. ROUND is a shape.

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