Are we encouraging our children onto faddy diets?

Today I’m sharing a guest post from Gemma about faddy diets and how diets can affect children. With a lot of different opinion out there on dietary choices now, it’s really interesting to think about how this might affect our children. Gemma is a mum to two children and is a freelance content writer. She blogs as Mummy’s Waisted, which features family life, parenting, gardening and The Busy Mum’s Guide To series about small business concepts.

Are we encouraging our children onto faddy diets?

Talking about healthy eating as a family and asking are we encouraging our children onto faddy diets?

Chances are that you know at least one adult who is following a diet plan, and most likely it will be their own choice, rather than for medical reasons. There is now also a growing trend in children following ‘alternative’ diets, and doctors warn that at best this can unsuitable, and at worse, dangerous.

Many parents self diagnose their children as having food intolerances, when in fact a reaction to a particular food could have many other causes. I’ve been in the position myself where I decided that my son was lactose intolerant and switched him from formula to soya milk. In fact, he had just been suffering from an intermittent tummy bug, and was absolutely fine when we reintroduced formula a couple of weeks later. I also panicked when my newborn daughter would seem very uncomfortable in the early evening, and tried her on the foul smelling Nutramigen. It made absolutely no difference, and she grew out of the discomfort within a few weeks.

I’m not saying that intolerances and allergies don’t exist, but I know from my own experience it can seem like an easy answer to what may just be normal child behaviour. There are specific tests available at your GP for things like Coeliac disease, so you should consult a medical professional before starting to change your child’s diet significantly. The use of over the counter testing kits has rocketed in recent years, but these can give unreliable or misleading results.

There is also a risk that children may pick up on their parents’ eating habits, and adapt theirs accordingly, even if they’re not aware of it. Following a diet such as Paleo or Keto, where food groups are severely restricted or cut out completely can give the wrong messages to youngsters. Although it can be a lot easier to just cook one meal for the whole family, you may be restricting the amount of key nutrients your child is receiving.

If your child sees you being stressed about your diet or not enjoying the food you are eating, it can give them a negative perception of eating. Likewise, referring to certain foods as ‘naughty’ or ‘not allowed’ will just make them more appealing! You should be encouraging your child to eat a wide variety of foods, both sweet and savoury, and enjoying what they are eating. There is obviously a balancing act with not encouraging them to eat too much! Parents are their children’s role models, so if youngsters see them eating a healthy balanced diet, they will follow suit. A child may have a fussy phase, but this will undoubtedly pass within a number of months, or years in some cases.

A big thanks to Gemma for this thoughtful contribution on faddy diets and how our eating habits can affect our children. If you’d like to read more from her, you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook  and Instagram. I’m constantly hearing about new diets, especially when a celebrity starts doing something different. We’ve had a few issues with getting our son feeding lately and it’s so easy to panic and worry about food choices, especially if they start displaying strange symptoms. For example my husband and I wondered if our son had an allergy after he had a bout of vomiting and came out in a rash. This seemed to happen several days in a row after eating the same fruit so we were worried about allergies. It turned out to be a gastrointestinal virus, heat rash and just a coincidence! It’s worth being vigilant and attentive with our children, but it’s definitely easy to jump to dietary conclusions.

 

What are your experiences with this?

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