This one makes me crazy. I hear it over and over. Some doctor or other ‘expert’ scolds parents, “Hey, you’re the parent, just don’t bring it into the house!”
A recent article on kids’ eating had this nugget, from Renna, a pediatrician and nutritionist: “Just don’t have it in the house: Having a junk-food-free home gives kids no choice but to eat healthy. If your kids do not have the constant exposure to foods with little to no dietary value, then they won’t crave them. It may take you a month, or perhaps a year, but if you and your kids continue to follow healthy eating habits, you will find that your children prefer to eat healthy foods over junk foods”
Oh, and she also says about her healthy food transition, “But it always works.”
Really? I beg to differ…
These are just a few examples from clients, or others who have stopped me after a workshop who have been told, “Just don’t have it in the house.” and they don’t, and here’s the result…
• the 8 year-old daughter is found hiding in the bathroom at a neighbor’s with candy and cookies
• the 12 year-old boy, whose mom was in tears about his weight gain, rides his bike home from school and stops by the corner story and eats a package of donuts or other “junk”
• the mom of the 7 year-old who found a frosting container that her daughter pulled out of the garbage and ate secretly in her room.
This tactic may work for some kids who may be less interested or get less pleasure from foods in general, but for many, forbidden fuels obsession, makes it hard for kids to learn to handle these high-sugar, high-fat foods. I’ve written on this before (one, two), so this is just a brief post. Unless your child is on house-arrest or you live in a commune far from civilization, they grow up, they go to places other than your home, and you can’t always be the food cop. You don’t need to be. ‘Forbidden’ leads to shame and secretive eating and bingeing. Those three children above are not eating competent, in spite of having loving, concerned, intact families, who did as they were told. These kids are already disordered with their eating, and I worry for them. You don’t have to have a free-for-all, but children do need an opportunity to learn to manage all foods.
Have you tried to follow this advice? What happened?