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Do you think parents should teach their kids how to count calories?

leanitup123 Posts: 489 Member
I don't. You?


  • shrcpr
    shrcpr Posts: 885 Member
    I have ideas about this, but they are unconventional. I really don't care if other people disagree with how we raised them in this regard.

    We wanted our children to be able to tune into their hunger signals, and to that end, never forced meals on them or strictly imposed meal times.

    They were exclusively breast fed until they reached for food on the table, and while we had regular meals, they were not obligated to eat them. Healthy food was available to them at all times if their hunger led them into a different meal timing. Unhealthy food was also available, but it was limited and offered in context (they were taught about "sometimes" and "always" foods).

    Over time, they've fallen into regular meal timing, but they stop eating when they are full.

    I don't know many other kids who willingly turn down cookies or sometimes only eat half and then say they've had enough.

    It has worked. They are both at healthy weights. Our daughter is 21, and son is 15 and still growing.

    They both have knowledge of energy balance and calories in food, but it's not really an important thing for them. I think it's more important not to mess up the internal hunger signals we all have if it can be avoided. But that's me and a projection of how I wish my own hunger signalling wasn't so messed by the rigidity of my own upbringing that didn't allow for extra hunger during growth spurts or decreased hunger between them. I understand how other people might have a different take on things.

    I raised my son the same way. We also did a lot of active things together - sports, snowboarding, hiking, etc. He's now 29, is and has always been a healthy weight. He did gain a bit over the first winter when he moved to Seattle (from sunny San Jose, CA) but worked that out with some extra gym time.

    I would think the ideal would be to keep them away from having to count calories but understand that may not always be reasonable, especially with an older child.
  • Chef_Barbell
    Chef_Barbell Posts: 6,644 Member
  • Slimpossible007
    Slimpossible007 Posts: 16,287 Member
  • macchiatto
    macchiatto Posts: 2,890 Member
    My boys are 8 and just finished 2nd grade. They learned about calories and the My Plate type concepts in school a year or two ago and started reading nutrition labels (usually during breakfast with cereal boxes or snacks when they're helping themselves) on their own in 1st grade.

    What we tend to talk about at home: No foods are off-limits but being mindful of wanting to fuel our body well with healthy foods and then fitting in treats, but they don't make up the bulk of what we eat.

    Diabetes also runs big-time in my family so I've gotten them in the habit of balancing carbs with protein and fat. One of them definitely tends to get hangry if his blood sugar dips so being in the habit of eating to keep it stable seems to help.

    Their appetites definitely ebb and flow with growth spurts. We don't force them to finish anything; their calorie intake can vary quite a bit from day to day but based on their growth patterns and healthy BMIs, their intake overall seems to be about right.
  • amyteacake
    amyteacake Posts: 768 Member
    I think they should be introduced to healthy alternatives and activity at an early age but calories may be too much. Some kids might become obsessed with counting calories and develop eating disorders. It all depends on the child, but,personally, if I had children I would introduce them to healthy alternatives and activity at an early age more than I would calories.
  • ForecasterJason
    ForecasterJason Posts: 2,577 Member
    I think there's a lot parents can do with teaching kids the importance of a nutritious diet. I think it is beneficial for kids to have some idea of calories and foods that are low/high in them, but I don't think meticulous calorie counting is necessary for most kids.
  • nvmomketo
    nvmomketo Posts: 12,019 Member
    I sort of count sugar and, to a lesser extent, carbs. I think pointing out that 4g of sugar is a teaspoon of sugar helps them visualize what is too much.

    We don't count calories because their appetite changes so much with their growth. Some weeks they eat twice as much as other times.