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
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.