Pam Cytrynbaum

Pamela Cytrynbaum

Because I'm the Mom

Food Fights? Healthy Eating Is Easier for Kids When Moms Butt Out

Studies blame over-involved mothering for young adults with eating disorders

Posted Sep 07, 2012

Zip It, Mom! Studies say let kids listen to their bodies' hunger cues — avoid obesity, eating disorders

It's so tempting for many moms to micromanage every bite our kids take. Studies say kids will make much healthier choices in the long run and avoid eating disorders if instead we offer healthy foods and let them eat in peace!

One of my least-favorite back-to-school rituals is the Writing of the Lunchbox Note. In it, I politely but firmly request that any adult present while my daughter is eating respect our family's wishes and LEAVE MY KID ALONE WHILE SHE EATS. In other words, do not urge, coax, comment or attempt to bully her into eating more than her body tells her to. I provide her with foods for eating healthy lunches and snacks. The school provides her with (never enough!) time to eat and a table upon which to do so. I trust her to do her part. SHE ALONE is responsible for selecting what and how much to eat and drink.

If you start early by introducing kids to lots of different healthy foods and if you provide a wide range of yummy, healthful options, you've done your part. As I preached in an earlier post: Stop Forcing My Kid to Eat!, (that made some folks really mad) here’s the best strategy: Zip it and trust your kids. And what more and more studies are confirming is that if you over-involve yourselves in your kids' eating process, they'll have a harder time reading their own hunger/fullness cues and will more likely suffer from eating disorders.

This is advice I also follow myself. I let my kid eat in peace. I know this is a challenging position for many. But today I am pleased to announce yet another study whose results strongly show that the more parents (particularly mothers and grandmothers) force their kids to eat and are generally overinvolved in their kids' and grandkids' eating process, the more unhealthy the kids become, especially in later life.

Find out how to help children make healthy eating choices? Read more here.

Read more about healthy parenting, eating disorders and body image issues in tweens, teens and college students:

Kids and Health: Stop Forcing My Daughter to Eat!

Parents: 10 Winter Break Warning Signs of Eating Disorders in Your College Students

Parents: Important Advice About Your College Student and Eating Disorders

College Confidential: Stress, sex and savvy - I know the secrets of college students and you should, too

College Confidential Part II: Advice on how to parent college students FROM college students

College Confidential Part III: What College Students Wish Their Parents Knew and Would Do

Parent Survival Guide: When Your College Grad Moves Back Home (Part II)

Boomerang Rules: When College Graduate's 'New' Roommate is Mom (Part I)