Could Your Feeding Style Negatively Impact Your Child?

Playing Are Feeding Habits Damaging Your Child’s Future Health?

Sociologist and author of “It’s Not About the Broccoli” Dr. Dina Rose joins The Doctors to discuss three feeding styles that may be negatively impacting your children. A new body of research suggests the way parents feed children could affect their eating habits into adulthood. 

Dr. Rose shares it was her upbringing with a food-obsessed mother who eventually died due to obesity-related illnesses which led her on a quest to answer the question of how to teach kids to have a good and happy relationship with food. She believes if parents focus on the right habits, nutrition will come along for the ride. Dr. Rose tells parents to not freak out or panic upon hearing about these food styles. “We all sort of suffer from all of these types in different amounts.” 

Feeder Type #1: Hunger Avoiders
This parent doesn’t want their child to ever be hungry. Minor hunger-avoiders may feed their kid a snack 10 minutes before dinner unintentionally running dinnertime. These parents also feed their kids the foods they love and demand, which ends up narrowing their palates over time. “You know you’re a hunger avoider if you’d rather give your kids a really junky snack than let them be hungry,” says Dr. Rose. 

OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landry asks if there is a good solution for hunger avoiders. Dr. Rose says the first thing to do is switch up the language. Kids may learn that if they say “I’m hungry” they’ll automatically get the snack they crave, so parents should instead say, “good, you’re building up an appetite!” You don’t want to teach kids that they should never be hungry.

Watch: Mom Defends Weigh-Ins for 6-Year-Old Daughter

Secondly, Dr. Rose says to use the rotation rule. Mix up when you serve food, but start using only the foods your kids like. Then, parents can separate out the behavior issue of wanting the same food all the time from the parental concern that they are going to be hungry. Don’t serve the same thing two days in a row and switch up what meals you serve the same foods at.

Dr. Rose also says when it comes to fruits and vegetables, parents can be happy if children take 1 – 3 bites, and those can be spread out throughout the day, as opposed to forcing them to keep eating all in one meal. 

Feeder Type #2: Food Police 

Food police monitor what their children eat in terms of processed foods, sugar and junk. Dr. Rose says a mild case may be the parent who hides the sweets and treats in the house and selectively doles them out. The more serve case is when kids are never allowed sugar or any processed food.

The problem with this is that forbidden foods become ever more attractive which puts these kids at risk for binging and hoarding. Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra adds that when these kids are finally given access to forbidden foods they don’t have any limits or control. Dr. Nita says parents are missing out on a teachable moment to be able to show their children moderation and control. Dr. Rose says parents need to focus on teaching their children how to fit sweets and treats into their diet in the right way.

Feeder Type #3: Comforter/Rewarder

A mild case of this feeding type is the parent who gives their children a sweet when they fall down or hurt themselves. The more severe is when parents want to feed away every emotion so their kids will never have to experience that. Research shows, if you really feed away the feelings, those kids start to associate the feeling of sadness as if that is the feeling of hunger. This is a problem, especially in an era of an overweight and obesity epidemic. 

Psychiatrist Dr. Ish Major adds this is also an issue in the era of eating disorders. He asks what is this behavior reinforcing and how often? All of these feeder types create patterns that get into your mind. “It’s all coming out of love but everything in moderation,” says Dr. Ish.