Right off the bat I want to clarify about BMI. There’s nothing wrong with having a higher BMI. However, the point here is that when parents try to control the food more, they often push their child’s BMI to be higher than it would have been had they allowed them to naturally regulate their own intake.
With that said, you can see the clear difference in this post about the potential benefits of following the Division of Responsibility in feeding to raise a competent eater, as opposed to enlisting a greater degree of control over your child’s bites of food.
Higher parental control in feeding is associated with what I would consider to be mainly less desirable outcomes. And based on what we know about dieting and restrained eating in general, it makes sense.
Greater parental control leaves children feeling pressured to eat or deprived of what they want.
When children feel deprived they become more preoccupied with food and tend to eat larger portions and eat past fullness. Or they try to restrain themselves and then end up swinging between restrictive practices and ‘overeating’.
And the research further supports that children who are forced to try a bite of food are LESS likely to come back to it later as opposed to children who are given the freedom to explore it and potentially try to like it in their own time.
However, maintaining the Division of Responsibility and providing structure and boundaries while allowing your child autonomy in the feeding process is associated with better health outcomes and better overall diet quality, from variety, as well as better ability to self-regulate and feel in control around food.
I know it can be hard to not limit portions or require bites, but the research clearly shows it’s not beneficial practice in the long run.
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