Let Your Kids Decide When Enough is Enough

August 1, 2013

By Betty Murray

Telling your kids to clean their plates is possibly doing them more harm than good. The need to eat every bite can be a hard habit to break and this mentality can lead to obesity earlier on in life. Likewise, denying your kids certain foods may also lead to obesity.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota found that kids whose parents restricted what they ate were more likely to be overweight or obese. And while children whose parents required them to clean their plate were typically normal weight, it had negative effects on those children as they got older.

“Parental pressure to eat can be detrimental to children because it takes away from a child’s ability to respond naturally to their own hunger,” said lead author of the study, Katie Loth. As adults, those children are more likely to decide how much they eat based on environmental factors rather than making the determination based on their own hunger.

Restricting a child’s diet is also likely to have adverse affects on the child. “When a parent places a restriction on a particular food item (i.e. no treats) that a child becomes more interested in consuming that food item and will often overeat that food when given the opportunity,” Loth said.

Read more about the research in this CNN article.

What’s the healthy answer for parents?

Encourage your kids to eat everything in moderation and allow them to decide when they are full, rather than pressuring them to eat when they aren’t hungry.

Focus on regularly eating meals as a family, and keeping nutritious snacks around the home. Kids learn eating habits from their parents. The best way to teach your children healthy eating habits is by practicing healthy eating habits and choosing nutritious foods for yourself.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.


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