You can’t order your child to eat better

mom watching toddle eating You can’t order your child to eat betterYou want your child to eat wholesome nutritious food, so that they grow up healthy and in this day and age, “skinny”.

But what you want and what you get, aren’t always in alignment. Exactly what is healthy, is already a contentious issue, but you have “strong marketing forces” campaigning for the hearts and minds of your little one. Hell, these forces and others, routinely campaign for your heart and mind too, when it comes to food choices. When last did you see an advert encouraging you to pig out on broccoli ? 

So getting your kid to eat healthy is a challenge. What approach are you using ?

“Do as I say” or “Do as I do”

Parenting styles influenced weight

The team from Michigan State University peeked into the homes of 330 pre-school children who were participating in a government programme, designed to help kids from low income families get off to a good start. The team was interested in how these kids mom’s managed dinner time and whether this mattered, when it came to the types of foods eaten and the weight status of the child.

Each mom’s parenting style was evaluated. Mothers were classified as either

  • directive – which meant their parenting style was more in line with “Eat it / don’t eat it – or ELSE !” or
  • non-directive – which meant they did a lot less nagging, adopting a more covert approach at the dinner table, by limiting the availability of unhealthy foods

The kids of bossy moms weren’t eating better

When the team crunched the numbers, they discovered that bossy moms did manage to produce slightly skinnier kids, but this was not being achieved through better food choices.

Non-directive moms were able to “command” food compliance, by keeping fattening foods out of the house. Children growing up in homes where this parenting approach, ended up learning to making better food choices. There food preferences tended toward more nutrient-dense foods, rather than energy-dense foods (aka the really fattening stuff), probably because these behaviours were being modelled in their homes.

“Do as I do” trumps “Do what I say”

You probably don’t need a PhD to work out your kids are more likely to eat right, if you’re eating right.

The research suggests demanding compliance, through nagging and yelling, is largely counterproductive when it comes to keeping your kids on the straight and narrow.

When you’re 3 or 4, if Mom says it is NO forcefully enough, then NO it is, but Mom is not always around. A child who has learned to make better food choices at home, is more likely to carry those skills into the wider world.

It means you have to practice what you preach

Adopting the “do what I do” approach to parenting, will end up rubbing off on your health status too but it might be a little challenging too.

You’ll have to


Your little one will be watching !

Feeding behaviors of low-income mothers: directive control relates to a lower BMI in children, and a nondirective control relates to a healthier diet in preschoolers.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2012) 95 (5): 1031 M. Murashima, S. L. Hoerr, S. O. Hughes, S. A. Kaplowitz.

Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind those extra fat layers ?

Subcribe to E-spoons, to get e-mail updates once a month to learn how to keep your body chemistry balanced so you can burn off the extra fat.

NOTE : Privacy & spam policy. Spoonful of Science will not rent, trade or sell the e-mail list to anyone. You can unsubscribe at any time by following the unsubscribe link.

Know someone who will find this post useful ? Share it on , ,

Further reading

little boy cleaning the plate tn You can’t order your child to eat better thumbnail broccoli and breast milk You can’t order your child to eat better elf caffeine break tn You can’t order your child to eat better
The danger of “finish your broccoli or else” How to raise a child that loves vegetables Why elves and other smallish people shouldn’t drink too much coffee

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

balance eicosanoids thumbnail You can’t order your child to eat better rein in insulin thumbnail You can’t order your child to eat better thumbnail dial down stress You can’t order your child to eat better thumbnail sleep You can’t order your child to eat better vitamin D thumbnail You can’t order your child to eat better microflora thumbnail1 You can’t order your child to eat better think like a champion thumbnail You can’t order your child to eat better
Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

Hire Dr Sandy from a Spoonful of Science to be the keynote speaker at your next event.

Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below

This entry was posted in childhoodobesity and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Trackback

  1. By » Blog Archive » Round up 25 June – 29 June on June 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    [...] You can’t order your child to eat better Big Spoons [...]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>