It’s not unusual for adults to choose to go on fad diets in order to lose weight for a special occasion. While no one expects fad diets to work long term, they are eager to try nearly anything to lose those stubborn pounds. However, there are good reasons why children should avoid fad diets, even if their parents use them.
Fad diets, or sometimes called crash diets, aren’t healthy for anyone – much less children or teens. These types of diets restrict what you can eat, often to the detriment of your health. They may not provide enough calories to fuel your body. They also don’t provide the amount of nutrition a growing body needs.
Children often learn more by watching their parents than they do by being told what to do. Your children will be less likely to want to try fad diets if your entire family eats healthy meals and is active. They will also avoid fad diets if they don’t see you or anyone else in your family using them.
Instead of relying on a fad diet, explain to your child that there are healthy ways to shed extra pounds. Becoming more active and staying away from processed, refined sugars and refined flours is a start. Your child can also begin eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, limiting saturated fats and eating several small meals rather than three large meals each day.
Fad diets do not provide the nutrients your child needs for proper growth. Choosing a fad diet can stunt a child’s growth so they don’t develop properly.
Children who don’t get enough healthful nutrients won’t have the energy they need to get through the day. They will also feel tired, won’t be alert and probably won’t do well in school.
Diets which are restrictive, such as fad diets, may actually have the opposite effect on your child. They may do well not eating much while at school but then overeat when they are alone. Unfortunately, once your child learns this type of behavior, they may begin to develop anorexia nervosa or bulimia as a means to reduce their weight. Sadly, many children who are obsessed with their weight to the point of becoming anorexic or bulimic become so unhealthy that their health and life is threatened. Some even die from malnutrition.
Most children who use fad diets feel ashamed that they can’t control their eating. They may be self-conscious and feel different than their friends. Their self-esteem will suffer, and it can become a vicious cycle.
Finally, once a child or teen has spent any amount of time following a fad diet, they may lose their ability to make healthy food choices. They may end up yo-yoing back and forth between a healthy weight and one that is unhealthy. Yo-yo dieting can put undue stress on the heart which could lead to serious health problems as they become adults.
Even though many people use fad or crash diets each year, it is not something suitable for children or teens. The above are a few reasons why children should avoid fad diets. If you can teach them to get active and eat healthy while they’re young, they have a very good chance of continuing to eat healthy and exercise as they reach adulthood.