No Dieta is an eating philosophy that protests restrictive diets and instead promotes varied and balanced healthy eating. “When we forbid certain foods, all we do is generate more desire. In the “no dieta” movement everything can be eaten, but the key is measuring the portions and living an active life,” explained Dr. Mónica Katz, the leader of the meeting.
Across countries, parents try to get creative when feeding their children whether with games and songs or airplane spoons. While some parents are lenient with meals, others enforce long lists of prohibitions. Because both individuals’ relationships with food and the prevalence of obesity are highly influenced by early family eating habits, this year’s No Dieta theme was “Models of Parenting.”
At this year’s No Dieta event, presenters addressed common parenting styles and their impacts on the risk of overweight and obesity in children.
- Authoritarian parents:
Authoritarian parents are often indifferent to and ignorant of the demands and preferences of their children. By setting rigid rules and punishments and solving problems without consulting their children, these parents exhibit high levels of control. While often showing little affection, these parents usually demand their children to complete entire meal portions or use their discretion to restrict unhealthy foods. This authoritative model is associated with increased risk of overweight because it validates restrictive diets.
- Democratic parents:
Democratic, or positive parenting, is based on the principle of negotiation. Democratic parents respond to the demands of their children but also recognize and accept their independence. The communication model of democratic parenting is comprehensive and bidirectional; therefore, democratic parents often explain their reasoning for putting clear limits on meal choices. With this model, children learn self-control and maintain autonomy through parental guidance. Children of democratic parents often drink more milk and eat a greater variety of fruits and vegetables while maintaining a healthier weight.
- Indifferent parents:
Indifferent, or uninvolved parents, are not limited to their inability to give affection. Indifferent parents do not set limits and are often unable to give affection. There is a lack of rules, of contention. As a result, what frequently occurs in children? While this style of parenting often avoids confrontation, overeating, deprivation, and concerns with nutrition and obesity often arise.
- Permissive parents:
Permissive parents are overly tolerant and responsive to the demands and arguments of their children. In a permissive parenting system, children often make the decisions due to a parent’s fear of confrontation. Consequently, children with permissive parents have a greater fear of new foods and are highly selective in their eating habits, therefore resulting in lower fruit and vegetable consumption.
5 tips from the doctor
• Kids will likely self-regulate their portions by responding to internal signals of satiety; however, they are also susceptible to environmental signals. It is therefore important that parents not tamper with children’s feelings of satiety.
• The family is the primary context of love, learning and development. It is also the natural space where a child learns to regulate satiety.
• Early and repeated exposure to foods reduces fear of new foods in the first years of life, which can lead to a more varied diet in the future. According to Dr. Katz, kids will be more willing to eat new foods if others eat the same thing, but only the new food is offered to them.
• Parental interventions on eating and exercise habits must involve monitoring eating and exercise behaviors and positive reinforcement for good behaviors. Such tactics are associated with healthier eating and exercise habits.
• It is important that couples understand their parenting style and work together as a team to stick to it.