When our kids love certain foods that we don’t or we worry about portion sizes or nutritional intake, we can sometimes restrict foods without even realizing we’re doing it…and inadvertently make the situation more stressful for everyone. Learn why restricting foods isn’t the answer to raising kids with a healthy relationship to food.
What is Food Restriction?
Even if we think we’re not dieting, putting our kids on diets, or counting calories, it’s so easy to slip into a restriction mindset simply due to the messages we get all day long from the news, social media, and food packaging. There are claims that some foods are “healthy” or not, “good” or “bad”, “processed” or “clean”. It’s confusing to know what we should be feeding our kids!
In our latest episode of the Comfort Food podcast, we talk about how to spot the underlying restriction in food rules and portion sizes, and how the assumptions and anxieties we all carry around certain food groups do more harm than good.
Why Restriction Backfires
Research shows that the more limited you feel around a food and the more you you feel like you can’t have it, them more you will crave it—and then eat more of it when you do get it since it can feel like you may never have access to it again. So when you tell a kid to eat more fruits and vegetables and less desserts, you’re making desserts inherently more appealing since they are off limits.
TIP: Here’s a link to a study that showed that kids who were forced to eat soup ate less of it and liked it less than kids who were allowed to eat according to their own cues.
Rely on Division of Responsibility
Using DOR lets you feed your family with confidence by letting the kids eat their fill from the foods you offer—without you needing a nutrition degree. You just need to remember your job when it comes to meal time, which is that you’re in charge of offering a range of foods and the kids are in charge of how much to eat. Fundamentally that lets you bypass the nutrition question, even though it’s a little hard to wrap your head around it.
All of the information in our brains about food is not all necessarily true or useful. It can help to look at where you learned or heard that message. Also when you’re fixated on something the kids are or aren’t eating, ask yourself “what am I worried about here?”. That might help you to be able to see what’s really causing your concern—maybe it’s body size or weight, or a legitimate medical concern such as anemia or chronic constipation.
In the episode, we run through a few common scenarios we’ve seen that have a sneaky food restriction angle to help shed some light on what you might be seeing too.
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