Should you restrict your child’s consumption of candy? Limit chips and keep cookies out of the house?  Or let your kids go at it?

Most parents have heard that restricting kids’ access to certain foods only makes those foods MORE desirable.  But new research shows …

The impact of restriction on your child’s eating habits depends on YOUR parenting style.

Restriction is MOST likely to backfire if …

  • you tend to provide flexible and/or inconsistent eating schedules, and if you frequently fluctuate between healthy and unhealthy eating patterns


  • you have a  stern style, tend to communicate disapproval of your child’s eating behavior, and frequently fight with your child about food.

Alternatively, restriction doesn’t appear to have the same negative effect on children’s eating when …

  • you create a supportive eating environment that nurtures trust in your child’s decision-making about food, and when you provide appealing food choices without being coercive.

The results are far from conclusive, so what should you do?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution and while there is a lot of evidence to suggest that restriction is a technique that often backfires, the jury is still out.  This new research shows that family context matters.

And as the researchers point out, some restriction may be necessary given the current food environment where our kids have abundant access to tasty, high calorie foods.

Whatever route you decide to travel, assess your family dynamics and then proceed cautiously.  Click for more on this topic.

~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~


Source: Joyce, J. L. and M. J. Zimmer-Gembeck. 2009. “Parent Feeding Restriction and Child Weight. the Mediating Role of Child Disinhibited Eating and the Moderating Role of the Parenting Context.” Appetite 52: 726-34.