How to help children to navigate a food-addicted society?

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    • #2756
      Alice
      Participant

      I don’t suppose I’m alone here in having been raised in a family of overeaters, and becoming one myself. As someone who is still struggling to overcome this, how do I avoid condemning my children to the same fate? I particularly worry about my daughter, who at the age of FIVE is already learning to hate her body whilst at the same time showing a strong natural tendency to enjoy food, especially addictive non-food, which I cannot prevent her from knowing about even if I keep none in my own house. I strongly agree with Gillian’s scepticism of the “intuitive eating” hypothesis: it might work if we only had access to natural food, but how can we expect our bodies to resist “food” that has been manufactured to be very appealing? I also strongly believe that some people are just naturally more interested in eating than others, and find such foods harder to resist: after all, if they had the same appeal to everyone, we would all overeat to exactly the same extent (and everyone would be equally overweight) but that is not the case. However, I know from experience that prohibition doesn’t work – and I was very struck by the study Gillian referred to in one of the webinars, showing that children who are banned from having certain things come to regard them as ultra-desireable. I try to discuss food and health (without reference to weight which I do not think is something she should be worrying about) and let her see me make healthy choices and talk about why – for example at the weekend we were at a birthday party where there was a big meringue, and I told her I wasn’t going to eat any because it would be too sugary for my taste – yes, such a thing exists! – and would make me feel sick. Later she told me that after eating her piece she had indeed felt a bit sick, so I said “well maybe next time don’t have any, or have a smaller piece”. One friend suggests I should just give them totally free rein because one day they will eat so much that they’ll be sick and this will serve as aversion therapy – but I’m terrified that all that will actually happen is that they’ll come to regard unrestricted access to junk food as normal. Any ideas??

    • #2761
      Gillian
      Keymaster

      Hi Alice, this is such a frequently asked question I created an extra page at the bottom of the Course Dashboard titled “FAQs” and put it there. This post of yours reminded me to add the title of a recently published book to my answer on that page: “SECOND NATURE: How Parents Can Use Neuroscience To Help Kids Develop Empathy, Creativity and Self-Control.” It’s by Erin Clabough PhD, a neuroscientist and mother of four – excellent credentials!

    • #2763
      Alice
      Participant

      Ooh sounds good, I’ll check it out!

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