Welcome to Debate Club! Please be aware that this is a space for respectful debate, and that your ideas will be challenged here. Please remember to critique the argument, not the author.

Children and Intermittent Fasting

pancakerunner Posts: 6,109 Member
Do you think parents should let their kids practice IF? I'm not sure where I stand on this tbh.


  • MaltedTea
    MaltedTea Posts: 6,287 Member
    Too many variables. I'd want to have a discussion first knowing the child's age, whether this is a religious choice, how they plan to break their fast, how long they intend to fast overall (ex, weeks vs months).

    A nutritionist or pediatric conversation - which includes the child - wouldn't hurt.
  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,893 Member
    edited June 2020
    Something like family meals at 7 and 5, with lunch around noon or at school, which some would consider IF, I guess? Sure, why not, if that fits the schedule and the child is getting plenty to eat.

    Something like an older child (like a teen) not eating breakfast due to personal preference? Again, sure, if the teen seems to be functioning well. I was to make my own breakfast at that age and skipped it since I wasn't hungry for much (and didn't like non cooked breakfasts or to get up any earlier than necessary -- have always hated cold cereal), and was fine.

    5/2? No way, not for a child.

    Encouraging fasting as a weight loss method? Nope, although cutting out snacking might be a reasonable approach to try if an overweight child was interested in it as an idea.
  • freda666
    freda666 Posts: 338 Member
    edited June 2020
    harper16 wrote: »
    Why not set a good example regarding everything in moderation, and being active as a family instead of getting them started early on fad diets?

    Probably not for kids - but IF is not a "fad diet".

    Also "skipping breakfast" is not IF, it is just not eating breakfast.
  • AmunahSki
    AmunahSki Posts: 65 Member
    Interesting question, OP. I’ve always hated breakfast - I just don’t have any appetite when I wake up, and I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. My mum nagged me to eat before I went to school, trying all sorts - porridge, toast, cereals - and she gave up and left me to it when I got to my teens, which is about the same time I started skipping lunch. I’m now OMAD, only eating dinner at 6pm, which suits me fine - but it’s taken a long time for this to be ‘acceptable’ to others.

    With my own children, I provided variety and options, but never nagged. Neither of them were ‘faddy’ eaters, but they resisted breakfast in particular (for which I obviously had some sympathy!). As a parent, I had read the studies about nutrition and educational attainment (breakfast eaters having better concentration levels), so I felt really guilty if I ‘let’ them skip breakfast before going to school because I was ‘sabotaging their education’... but both have a Masters degree (and my son should get his PhD this spring). They’re now in their 30’s, daughter eats 3 times a day, whilst my son prefers brunch and then dinner.

    My daughter now has two little girls, one (the youngest, 18 months) particularly loves breakfast - fruits of all kinds, bagels, toast, porridge - the oldest (3 and a half) is given the same options/choices and I suspect would happily go without breakfast completely but is ‘encouraged’ to try some of what is offered (not nagged in the same way I was, but both mum and dad express concern if she doesn’t eat much). Both girls are energetic, health and happy.

    I wonder how much of this is nature or nurture? I offer no absolute conclusions, I just think the debate is very interesting.
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,324 Member
    At 16 now, I let my kid eat wherever she wants except dinner where we sit down. My kid currently eats 2 meals a day and a couple of snacks. Which IMO is good right now because with no physical school, she's been at home all the time. She's introverted so she doesn't go out much and when she does it's not for a lot of physical activity other than walking. Consequently since she's not burning a lot of calories, how she's been eating isn't causing unneeded weight gain on her.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

  • Speakeasy76
    Speakeasy76 Posts: 960 Member
    This is a somewhat touchy subject for me. In general, I think a better approach to healthy eating/exercise/lifestyle (especially for kids) is to emphasize what are the things we CAN do to lead a healthier life. Eat more of the healthier choices, less of the less healthy choices. Teach them more about recognizing hunger signals, and if they say they want something to eat--why is it they want something to eat. Are they truly hungry, or just bored? When you start telling kids what they CAN'T do (and this applies to all behavior), they're going to be more likely to want to do it. Sure, you could tell kids you CAN eat during these hours, but restricting the times they are allowed to eat just seems like telling them "no" about something. I'm not saying IF can't work for adults, but kids are still growing and I feel probably need to eat more regularly.

    I was a bit overweight as a kid, and it always made me feel "less than" others. At age 14, I decided to do something about it. I got a diet book specifically for teenage girls from the library, and took the parts I liked from it to lose weight...which meant going on a 900-calorie a day diet. The advice in the book was that that was to last no more than 2 weeks, but I decided to do it long-term (FYI, this book was probably written in the late 80's).

    Well, of course we all know that wasn't ideal at all, especially for a growing person. I then realized I wanted to be even skinnier (my goal was 100 lb at 5'6 so I could look like Kate Moss), and went down to 500 calories a day. That meant no eating breakfast, and then no eating breakfast or lunch. So, while some may disagree on terminology, that was fasting. I wasn't choosing not to eat because I just didn't like breakfast, it was to restrict my calories. How I ever managed to do well academically my sophomore year of high school, I'll never know. I do remember feeling tired and weak, though, and I sometimes wonder if I'd be a bit taller if I ate normally (I'm 5'8 now, so not short, but still). In any case, this pattern set up years and years of disordered eating--restrict/binge/attempt to purge.

    My kids are on the chubbier side, and it's gotten more noticeable since remote learning. They see me lead a healthy example by choosing mostly healthy foods, exercising, but also enjoying small amounts of treats. I also don't buy a lot of processed foods or soda, and rarely buy juice. They're probably some of the few 9 and 11-year olds that don't drink soda or juice regularly--my son doesn't even really like juice. However, I remember what it was like to be a chubby kid, then teenager, so I'm trying to balance promoting healthy eating/exercising without criticizing. I wouldn't ever suggest IF to them, and if they brought it up on their own, I'd check in with their doctor in make sure they are doing it in a healthy way.

  • Theo166
    Theo166 Posts: 2,564 Member
    Do you think parents should let their kids practice IF? I'm not sure where I stand on this tbh.

    Why not? We're not talking multi-day fasts here.
    Don't many kids skip breakfast, which effectively qualifies them for Intermittent Fasting.

    Also many religions practice more serious fasting to no ill effect; I understand they start pre-pubescent.
  • fr3smyl
    fr3smyl Posts: 1,418 Member
    Yes, they should.
    I, along with many others in my generation, grew up with this. We ate breakfast at a set time, had lunch, and dinner at about 5pm. Occasionally a snack. You would see an overweight kid every now and then. We ate cookies, white bread, cakes, etc, we just had them with our meals as a dessert.
    It also taught us patience. If you’re hungry just wait, dinner is coming soon so don’t spoil your appetite.
    So, I think yes.
  • forestfreek
    forestfreek Posts: 5,770 Member
    edited August 2021
    I'm not keen on anything that could potentially mess up a child's relationship with food. Fostering good habits, balance, and a healthy relationship with nutrition and exercise is the way to go.

    So much THIS💕

    As someone who grew up with a mortifyingly whacked mother when it came to messages about food and body image (and therefore struggled for years with disordered eating) I strive everyday to be a good role model and educator to my young son about balance and health. Kids have enough pressure through friends and social media - they don’t need warped messages at home about dysfunctional food relationships as well.