Just Enough Junk Food

How much should you keep in the house?
Just Enough Junk Food

Q: Is it okay to keep some junk food in the house?

A: Yes -- but just a small amount. A recent study found that 5-year-olds who were subject to the strictest rules about how much and how often they could eat junk food were the most likely to overindulge when left alone in a test situation, even when they weren't hungry. Worse, they felt bad about what they ate, even if they only nibbled at it.

When parents strictly control children's choices, the kids don't learn to trust their own judgment about when they're hungry and full, says lead researcher Jennifer Orlet Fisher, Ph.D., an assistant professor of behavioral nutrition at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "Kids need exposure to the foods they'll encounter outside your house," she says.

But you don't want to fill your pantry with junk. The trick, says Dr. Fisher, is to let your child choose the treat and then discuss when and how much she can eat. "When kids can feel comfortable eating a little bit of junk food in the open, they're less likely to eat a lot in secret," she says.

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Copyright © 2001. Reprinted with permission from the May 2001 issue of Child magazine.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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