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Are you doing intermittent fasting and want your kids to try it? It can be safe for them.
If you’re starting an intermittent fasting diet yourself, you may be wondering if it’s okay for your kids to do the diet as well. The answer to the question is that it depends on several factors. In order to determine whether or not it’s safe, you need to make sure you truly understand how an intermittent fasting diet works, and what the benefits truly are - making a decision with the facts is the best decision.
Intermittent fasting is not magic
Going on an intermittent fasting diet is not magic. You don’t simply lose weight or gain the ability to eat whatever you want all the time simply because you’re limiting your eating window. If you sit and eat candy for the entire time that you’re eating, you’re going to gain weight - intermittent fasting isn’t going to change that fact.
If your child is overweight, simply throwing them into intermittent fasting isn’t going to magically fix the problem. You really need to look at the foods that they’re eating, and how much of it they’re eating. It’s likely that your child has other areas in their diet that they can fix in order to help with their weight.
Intermittent fasting is CICO
Calories in, calories out (CICO) is a phrase to say that you need to eat less calories than you burn in order to lose weight. Intermittent fasting is a tool to help with this - by shortening the window in which you eat, you’re shortening the number of calories you can take in. However, you still have to make sure you’re not taking in too many calories.
Just as an example of this, let’s say you’re eating only during 6 hours of the day whereas before you were eating 12 hours in a day. If you’re eating the exact same amount of food in that 6 hours that you were eating in the 12 hours (you’re eating twice as fast) then you’re not going to see much of a difference. Yes, you may burn a few more calories, but you still need to burn more calories than you take in.
Intermittent fasting doesn’t fix control of eating
Reiterating the above two points, intermittent fasting does not fix your lack of control with food. It helps to set limits as to when you’re eating, but that’s the extent of intermittent fasting’s control. At the end of the day, the control of what you do or do not eat is left up to you.
Shoving a child into intermittent fasting, thinking that it will help them to learn control of what they eat will not help. Intermittent fasting is a tool in your diet to use your control to limit your caloric intake, but it’s not the fix to a larger problem.
Why do you want your child to do intermittent fasting?
Back to the question of whether or not a child can do intermittent fasting, you need to examine why you want them to do intermittent fasting. If your child has expressed interest in doing intermittent fasting themselves (because you are), then it’s probably safe to do so - be sure to consult with their physician as your child’s health is of top priority.
If you are going to let them do intermittent fasting, do not try to control what they eat or when they eat. Let them eat as much as they want when they want. Assuming your child is not overweight, you don’t want to restrict their calories even further as it’s bound to lead to unhealthy eating habits in the future. The number one concern with a child wanting to do an intermittent fasting diet is to watch out for eating disorders - make sure your child is not underweight or trying to lose even more weight than they need.
On the other hand, if your child is not asking to do intermittent fasting, there is no reason that you should force them or encourage them into it. In fact, you should be looking for other methods to help them learn healthy eating habits by preparing and eating healthy meals, removing junk and other snacks from the home, and practicing an overall well rounded diet. This will go far further in helping a child to learn about being healthy than using an intermittent fasting diet.
Consult your doctor if your child is expressing interest in intermittent fasting - you don’t want them to develop an eating disorder. Be sure that you’re eating a healthy diet in your home - that will go far further with helping your child in the long run.