‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Healthy, Happy Eating: No Helicopter Parents Needed

What if I told you that forcing your kids to eat is a bad idea? What if you could improve your family's health by making a couple of simple changes? Parents, you're all over this, so let's get down to it!

August is Kids Eat Right Month, which inspired me as a new mum to write this article based on a bunch of new studies about kid's health.

Contrary to many parent's beliefs and actions, children shouldn't be forced or pressured to eat anything (including veggies). What whaaat? Seriously, this latest study is just adding to the body of research showing these results. Read 'em and weep:
  • Children who had more control over food-related decisions were more likely to enjoy eating healthy foods
  • Urging a child to eat increases food neophobia (fear of new foods)
  • Offering new foods reduces food neophobia
  • Children with high neophobia scores tended to like fewer foods
Translation - You, the parent, should present an array of healthy foods to your child and let them decide how much of it to eat. Your child doesn't need to be urged, coaxed, or tricked into eating more.

Next up, family meals. There are numerous researched benefits to families eating meals together:
  • They significantly increase the amount of fruit and veggies kids eat
  • They are significantly associated with BMI z-scores (more family meals equals healthier BMI)
  • They are associated with overall higher diet quality (see a review of earlier studies here, along with tips for fun, fast family meals)
But wait, the fun doesn't stop there... New research shows parent and child food intakes are closely related across various metrics of diet quality including energy intake (total calories). This is most likely due to shared food environments, shared meals, and parental modeling.

Translation?
If you, the parents, are eating at Mc Donald's (environment), your child is likely with you and either sharing your meal or getting their own Mc Donald's meal (shared food). This is due to you, the parent, modeling the consumption of that particular food. This example is, of course, a negative one.

Finally, the take home messages:
  1. No healthy child self-starves
  2. The less of a fuss you make about your kids eating, the better time you'll have and the healthier food habits your children will have
  3. Eat with your kids (and be a role model: Eat your veggies!)
  4. Make the time, watching your favourite show on Netflix can wait
I happened upon this article whilst writing the above. How to get kids involved in prepping their lunches: