The Flaw of the ‘Forbidden Food’ Strategy

April 28th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

I read yet again about another study on forbidden food and kids. You know what I’m talking about folks. Those empty snack foods loaded with nothingness except sugar, salt and/or fat that goes crunch that are brought into the household and hidden in hard to reach places from our half-pints. You don’t even need to tell your child they ought not eat this freely, they intuitively know by your actions. Kids are certainly smarter than you think! They don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure this out. Half baked home food strategies like this backfire every time and can create disordered eating in your kids for a lifetime.

The study I read about described the “reactive eater”. Studies show that children who grow up in homes with restrictive food rules, where a parent is constantly dieting or desirable foods are forbidden or placed out of reach, often develop stronger reactions to food and want more of it when the opportunity presents itself. Talk about a strategy that backfires with a capital “B”.

“The message is that restriction is counterproductive — it just doesn’t work very well,” said Brandi Rollins, a Penn State postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the study, which was published in February in the journal Appetite. “Restriction just increases a child’s focus and intake of the food that the parent is trying to restrict.” The same thing happens with kids and adults alike when are posed with the forbidden food.

The take home message here is to have food and snack options at home that are better for you, but still enjoy treats such as having an ice cream once a week outside of home setting.

When I think more deeply about this flawed strategy my thoughts wander to schools that have been cleansed of any sort of treat yet are surrounded by them with fast food joints, coffee shops and junk food havens. School boards cheer of their accomplishment, but I shutter at the thought of how the students have reacted to this same sort of strategy. Are we creating a new generation of reactive eaters that will take longer to help cure in the long run? Something to gnaw on, that’s for sure….

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