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Children and Intermittent Fasting

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  • forestfreek
    forestfreek Posts: 5,768 Member
    edited August 25
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    freda78 wrote: »
    harper16 wrote: »
    No.
    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.

    How do you figure? If my last meal is at 8 PM, and I don't eat breakfast or anything until noon I have fasted for 16 hours by..."skipping breakfast"...ie intermittent fasting where I'd eat all of my meals within the window of noon to 8 PM.

    I have practiced it off and on...but it's definitely a fad.

    Exactly. Just because one doesn’t formally name their way of eating as “IF”, a 16 hour period of not eating qualifies.
    And nutritionists everywhere universally agree that children learn better when they have breakfast. I know of no society that encourages children to skip breakfast for reasons other than abject poverty. And there’s a reason breakfast programs were created in schools.
  • wunderkindking
    wunderkindking Posts: 1,473 Member
    This gave me flashbacks to being forced to eat breakfast when I was a kid, and how awful it felt and was. I wasn't hungry. It made me nauseated on the bus. It created conflict with my parents where there didn't need to be any.

    So basically, I think kids shouldn't be forced to eat. But I also think that kids should not be encouraged to have any real major restrictions in food quantity or timing and it shouldn't be a battleground.

    If IF means 'kid doesn't eat breakfast' (or lunch or doesn't want a snack after dinner or whatever) cool. Leave them alone as long as their overall intake isn't suffering. if IF means 'I may not eat except these hours, no matter what, because WEIGHT LOSS/RULES - absolutely not.
  • penguinmama87
    penguinmama87 Posts: 949 Member
    Theo166 wrote: »
    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.

    I know this is an older post in the thread, but just as a point of clarification: my religion practices obligatory seasonal fasting and encourages it at other times for spiritual growth. Children are specifically excluded from the requirement, as are the elderly and pregnant and breastfeeding women, or for anyone for whom it would pose a danger to their health. The point is to be a little bit uncomfortable, not cause harm to yourself. Have there been overzealous parents who impose harsher restrictions on their own children? I could believe it, but it's never been required and if they sought guidance from a clergy member I'd hope they'd be discouraged from it. I might reassess this when I have teenagers as long as they are eating enough. If I caught a whiff of disordered eating I'd probably bring in someone to help me figure it out because I'd rather have as much help as I could.

    I do have my children practice abstinence from meat even when not required, but as many plant based folks will attest there's no serious health risk in that. I also don't feel like cooking multiple meals so they eat what I eat.

    My children up until this point have been homeschooled so it's never been a big deal if one didn't feel like eating breakfast until later in the day, but this year they'll be going to school and I have one who may not want to eat first thing. Hm. His lunch will be earlier in the day than his older brother's, but probably later than he'd like for a first meal. I probably will encourage him to eat breakfast, but it won't bother me if it's small and I'll explain why. Even a glass of milk and an apple would be fine.

    When I was a teen I used to use my lunch time in high school to get my homework done, and then I ate lunch when I got home in the early afternoon - so about seven hours without eating. It was nice not having to worry about packing something and not having to bring as many books home, too.
  • 33gail33
    33gail33 Posts: 1,037 Member
    Most studies I have seen indicate a benefit to academic performance and classroom behaviour in kids who eat breakfast regularly, although it is hard to control for confounders is these types of studies. So since IF generally means skipping breakfast then no, I think it is healthier that they eat something in the morning. I always had my kids eat breakfast before school, and nothing I have learned since then has changed my thoughts on it.
  • sheahughes
    sheahughes Posts: 122 Member
    This is a really interesting debate!
    I am one of those who tends to feel ravenous if I do consume food between 5-11am, and that itself makes it difficult to stay within calorie goals but also, breakfast cereal isn't necessarily appetising, especially when it goes mushy. Toast is ok. A piece of fruit of some yoghurt is also nice every now and then.
    As a kid we had breakfast options available that we could make ourselves, and during school term would rarely eat an early morning meal however on school holidays when we could sleep in, or we had been up and doing work with our parents, we would eat toast/porridge/fruit about 10-11am.
    As an adult, I am very much the same. A workday typically means no breakfast=more sleep whereas a weekend or time off means the 10-11am meal.
    My son (now 16) is very much the same. Some days he wants breakfast and makes it and other days he wants those extra few minutes in bed. Some days he eats lunch, some days his first meal of the day will be a bowl of noodle and a fried egg after school. I got to the point of wasted food and money that I stopped sending a lunch for him and if he wants lunch he is in charge of preparing it. Therefore, some days he is doing his own form of IF until about 3:30pm.
    Would I put a child on IF intentionally? No. Would I decide, as a caregiver, that having an argument or tantrum every morning about the child eating something so they "are fueled for school" wasn't worth whatever gains they might make educationally? Yes.
    I think it absolutely comes down to the child, the caregivers, the home/work/school situation and timetable, as well as factors like income and cultural and religious expectations.
  • paperpudding
    paperpudding Posts: 7,180 Member
    33gail33 wrote: »
    Most studies I have seen indicate a benefit to academic performance and classroom behaviour in kids who eat breakfast regularly, although it is hard to control for confounders is these types of studies. So since IF generally means skipping breakfast then no, I think it is healthier that they eat something in the morning. I always had my kids eat breakfast before school, and nothing I have learned since then has changed my thoughts on it.


    I agree with this. I think I said so earlier in the thread

    However like penguinmama, I didn't force a big breakfast on them - sometimes it was just a cup of milk or Milo and a banana or an apple.
  • callsitlikeiseeit
    callsitlikeiseeit Posts: 8,346 Member
    being FORCED to? absolutely not. regardless of their age. i typically did not eat breakfast in high school. i simply did not want it. was a normal weight. even as an adult I rarely eat it.

    if an older child/teen is using it as a way to help lose weight (and needs to) and is otherwise eating enough then ... okay (so long as school work/ energy levels are not suffering as a result of not eating in the morning)

  • neanderthin
    neanderthin Posts: 7,808 Member
    edited August 26
    Our children are the next generation of adults and with childhood obesity and diabetes increasing we'll probably not see a decrease any time soon in the adult population. Intermittent fasting for children is not the answer. The lowest population of children with obesity are mostly preschoolers and the highest in adolescence. Home, early in a childs life, under10 yrs old, is where good eating habits form. Lower income single parent households are where real transformation can occur but that is a pretty big ask and with no blame given, it's just damn hard. China for example, the obesity rate in young children is around 17% and in adolescence it's around 8%. It clear to see that while many people are getting out of poverty and becoming middleclass they're also eating more in general and can afford I suspect the more expensive packaged/processed foods and early obesity numbers will be the new adolescence numbers soon. Most countries show this trend but China and Russia show the bigger examples.

    https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/13/health/child-obesity-parenting-without-borders-intl/index.html
  • paperpudding
    paperpudding Posts: 7,180 Member
    being FORCED to? absolutely not. regardless of their age. i typically did not eat breakfast in high school. i simply did not want it. was a normal weight. even as an adult I rarely eat it.

    if an older child/teen is using it as a way to help lose weight (and needs to) and is otherwise eating enough then ... okay (so long as school work/ energy levels are not suffering as a result of not eating in the morning)


    My insistence on children eating breakfast ( 'Forcing' them if you want, like I forced them to go to school) had nothing to do with weight.

    My kids were all active and healthy weight anyway - but more to do with concentration and the link between academic success and breakfast eating.

    which I know is multi faceted but still a link worth acting on IMO
  • 4legsRbetterthan2
    4legsRbetterthan2 Posts: 19,459 MFP Moderator
    Do you think parents should let their kids practice IF? I'm not sure where I stand on this tbh.

    How old are the kids? What is the goal, are they overweight? You pose a pretty vague question here.

    So far (my son is about to turn 4 and at a healthy weight) I just kind of let him follow his own body ques and make sure to guide him towards a balanced diet. I'm ok with treats sometimes for fun, if he is actually hungry he needs to eat a more balanced meal.

    He tends to not want to eat first thing in the morning and I don't push it. IME there is just no making a toddler/young kid who isn't hungry eat so it's not worth the battle. (I really feel for parents struggling with underweight kids who won't eat!) Most weekend days he won't eat anything until lunch so it is sort of an 8 hour eating window for him. It's not enforced IF but I don't fight it either.

    I'm not sure about using IF research from adults to apply to children. In the medication world they caution against viewing kids and "small adults", for example there are many medications unsafe for kids, it's not as simple as just dosing lower based on their smaller weight, they don't always metabolize things the same way either. I imagine that also applies to diet. Add in the variables of growth spurts and it gets to be a very muddy picture.
  • ythannah
    ythannah Posts: 4,013 Member
    This gave me flashbacks to being forced to eat breakfast when I was a kid, and how awful it felt and was. I wasn't hungry. It made me nauseated on the bus. It created conflict with my parents where there didn't need to be any.

    So basically, I think kids shouldn't be forced to eat. But I also think that kids should not be encouraged to have any real major restrictions in food quantity or timing and it shouldn't be a battleground.

    This was me once puberty hit. My parents pushed the issue of eating breakfast only once. It came back up fairly quickly and I ruined a new pair of shoes in the process. I was just glad I was still at home and not puking in front of everyone at school. My parents both worked and my mother sure wasn't interested in losing a day of work to stay home with a sick kid so that was the end of breakfast. I haven't eaten it since. Academically I was a top student, not that anyone cared back in the 70s whether a child ate breakfast or not.

    My parents were really lax about lunch too. They were pretty happy once I got to high school because there was a cafeteria so they could just give me money for lunch, buy their own lunches at their work cafeteria, and no one had to pack lunches any more. Naturally I bought the cheapest junk available so I could save my lunch money for more important things.

    I don't have children so it's purely a theoretical exercise for me but, because of my own experience, I couldn't see myself insisting that a child ate breakfast if they really didn't want to have any. The only thing I remember being a rule at meals (and one I would probably enforce also) is that a decent portion of vegetables was eaten. I was allowed to dislike (and not eat) food, but I had to at least try it first. I really couldn't see myself exerting much control over a child's preference in eating patterns unless weight was an issue one way or the other.
  • Speakeasy76
    Speakeasy76 Posts: 917 Member
    I just learned that our children will probably be the first generation that will not outlive their parents, and that's extremely depressing to me as a parent. Yes, obesity is a problem that is on the rise in all age categories, so I think we do need to take not only our health but our kids' health seriously as well. However, I don't see any reason why IF should be the way to do it. We need to be teaching our kids how to make better choices overall, giving them less junk, to get more active (preferably outside) and learn to listen to their hunger/fullness cues from a young age. I say this as a parent of a 10 and 12-year old, who admittedly has not done a fantastic job, but I'm not done yet.

    My 10-year old daughter (a bit heavier) will sometimes not feel like eating when it's breakfast, dinner or whatever. So, she is "fasting." However, if she's not hungry or doesn't feel like eating, I don't force her to. I do tell her that I worry if she doesn't eat before school she may get tired and hungry, but lately she's been eating breakfast. When they're at school, it's not like they can just eat as soon as they get hungry, and I KNOW she gets hangry.