What Forcing Kids to Eat Looks Like 20 Years Later

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on July 6, 2012

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Make your bed. Clean your room. And eat your veggies!

I often hear parents lump kids’ eating in the same category as other chores. But eating food is different — very different. As we discussed in the other post on rewarding kids with food, the way we feed our children imprints their eating for years, even after they leave the nest.

So what are the long-term effects of forcing a child to eat? Let’s take a look…

The Research

After digging in the research I found a study published in the 2002 issue of Appetite surveying over 100 college students. Of these young adults, 70% said they had experienced forced-food consumption during childhood. Most often than not, the forcer was a parent and the common forced foods included vegetables, red meat and seafood.

The scenario goes something like this: the forcer coerces the forcee to eat the target food for reasons such as health, variety and waste. The most common tactics used were threats such as no dessert or staying at the table. In over half of these cases there was a stand-off lasting an average of 50 minutes!

What is most interesting is the internal conflict the forcees experienced — 31% experienced strong conflict, 41% moderate conflict and 29% slight conflict. Forty-nine percent said they cried, 55% experienced nausea, and 20% vomited. Most of the responses to the experience were negative with feelings of anger, fear, disgust, confusion and humiliation. The forcees also experienced feelings such as lack of control and helplessness.

Will they freely choose “that” food?

When asked if they would now eat the food they were forced to eat in childhood, 72% said they would not. The researcher’s explanation is that when a child finally gives in and eats something he doesn’t want to, he “loses” and the parent “wins.” So later in life, when he can freely choose the food on his own, he chooses to “win.”

Also, forced food consumption that results in gagging, vomiting and overall disgust can cause food aversions. Pickier kids tend to be more sensitive to different textures so being made to eat something that offends them can make that item displeasing for many years, if not a lifetime.

When asked if the forced consumption changed their overall eating habits as adults, over one-third said yes. Of those who said yes, 73% said it limited their diet and 27% said it made them more open to new foods. While this is only one study, and it does not prove cause and effect, it’s important food for thought.


The Opposite Effect

After studying the feeding literature over the last few years, it’s clear that many of the feeding strategies parents employ have the opposite effect. Forcing and pressuring causes kids to eat less and dislike certain foods. Restricting children makes them want to eat more.

I think a lot of it comes down to distrust. Parents have trouble believing their children will eventually learn to like a variety of foods on their own. When kids are highly food neophobic (afraid of foods), which peaks between 2 and 6, they can be very adamant about new foods, saying things like “I’ll never eat that!” If a parent doesn’t understand the child’s development, and that this is normal and will lessen with time, they’ll be more likely to fight against it making the stage last longer.

So as you can see, eating is different from other habits such as cleaning and brushing teeth. It involves taste, texture, appetite, temperament, listening and trust. It’s not about making or tricking a child eat what’s in front of them, but creating the circumstances that will help a child eat well today, and 20 years from now.

So tell me, were you forced to eat food as a kid? How does it affect your eating today?


Got a picky eater? Get the latest research and tips in my e-book From Picky to Powerful




Batsell, R.W., Brown, A.S., Ansfield, M.E., and Paschall, GY. “You Will Eat All of That!”: A Retrospective Analysis of Forced Consumption Episodes. Appetite. 2002, 38 (3), 211-219.

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{ 120 comments… read them below or add one }

kylee May 19, 2015 at 6:21 pm

I was forced to eat foods when I was little and I still am but today I was recently told that I couldn’t eat today . Then, I was at my school lunch and I don’t like any of there food choices or there milk but I have nothing else to eat and my mom says that I should just not eat is that healthy or not ?.


Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD May 21, 2015 at 5:29 pm

I think its up to you. If that’s the only meal than you might want to try and eat something to fill your belly so your no hungry – especially at school when you’re learning.


Marge May 23, 2015 at 7:01 am

Your mom is probably tired of you being picky (guessing here) which is why she said that. Here are things I used to do, when I did not want to eat what was given to me: I would raid the pantry and sneak the food of what I did want to eat. One problem though… I would sneak bowls of cereal with milk to my room, not finish it, and then fruit flies would develop because I forgot to bring it back. It was kind of gross. BUT if you sneak things like chips and crackers they don’t spoil. Also, raid the coin jar and go to the nearest food\snack\pharmacy\gas station and get some food. Now, you could get in trouble taking the coins (I always got caught) and it does become a lot of work doing this. OR you could just shovel the food in your mouth that comes from the school, and then you won’t have to worry about doing all of that. Plus it will keep your stomach from growling. I used to eat a pastry with my lunch money when I got to high school. They sold those at the high school. Then I would go run track. I turned out OK. I am almost 50 now.


Celia May 2, 2016 at 5:56 am

I was also forced as a child so I know how it feels. And to answer your question, no its not healthy to skip meals, but it’s entirely your choice. The only tip I can give you from my experience is sometimes a different cook or a different way of preparing a certain food can make a huge difference to the taste and texture of a certain food that you think you don’t like. So even if you think you don’t like a food that is normally served at home, it may taste very different at school. Dare to taste things, even if you don’t think you will finish them :-)


Bradley August 27, 2016 at 4:36 am

I wouldn’t think it is healthy. The fact that you use a lot of energy to function the brain, when you eat you refill the energy that was reduced by movement and action. I know school meals aren’t great but eating is an important thing in life, especially if you grow thinner or tired. If you find anything you like, why not ask the dinner lady’s to make you a sandwich of your favourite veg/meat. (Better choice if you eat healthy). Mothers should be supportive of your dietary or you might not be motivated to eat at all, which gives you an unhealthy weight loss (Underweight). Have a go at the pack lunch plan, and let me know how its doing?


Amanda Crowther June 23, 2015 at 7:09 pm

Only by my grandmothers as small child they wanted fo fatten me up cause I was born long and skinny. Sadly I am not that anymore. I am little over weight but working to loose it. I tended to under eat as never felt hungry and for reasons I don’t follow in part made me gain weight. Some days I do have to make self eat. There are stl texture I can’t stand and certain foods I refuse to eat but that’s not from grandmothers force feeding it is my own body not trusting all the food dyed blue and bad experiences with grape flavored candy which my aunt exasperated me and my little sis warned her not to make me suck the grape sucker especially in car. Barf happened. My mother’s food should have been labeled toxic waste. Loved dad’s cooking though I I couldn’t eat a lot at once. I have had to teach self to go humming bird style eating.I am still working on mouth texture issues. I am weird because I like to smell food once or twice before I consider trying it. And part of reason cautious go try new stuff is food allergies


Christine Horan June 24, 2015 at 10:35 am

as a parent I NEVER MADE MY KIDS EAT THINGS THEY DIDNT LIKE!!!!! I was a picky eater as a child & my mother & father never made me eat dairy ( to me cheese milk & even butter to me tasted like something went bad) to date I don’t like cheese milk ( when pregnant I’d add chocolate to it to get calcium for the baby,) but I do use a lil butter now & then dip & chips ,I barely skim edge of chive & onion dip, cottage cheese makes me want to throw up,still ! I haven’t really changed what I like. I think parents are wrong to make their kids eat stuff they don’t like ! I know I still don’t like what I didn’t like as a child & if I had parents that made me sit until I ate something with heavy cheese or drink white milk, I’d sit there all night & go to bed with No desert & early rather than eat what I didn’t like.I feel it’s very wrong. Now my youngest as a baby loved fruit but as she got older she won’t eat any fruit. I think it’s strange but it’s up to her taste buds not mine !!!


yosh June 24, 2015 at 12:44 pm

This is ridiculous. I was forced to eat all my food when i was younger, things that i feared and things that I KNEW i wouldn’t enjoy. Being put in this position made me experience a lot of foods I wouldnt have on my own. I was a very picky eater when i was little.
Now as an adult, i love trying new foods.
however my husband was given the soft hand approach. if his parents didnt eat it (seafood, veggies) then he wasnt forced to. now as an adult, he has the worst diet ive ever seen. he only eats beef, cheese, some rice, and candy. if I bring any type of veggie or fruit to him he gags. this is what happens when you give kids the option to eat what they want when they are younger. smfh


Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD July 7, 2015 at 2:39 pm

Hi Yosh. I wonder if your husband had some underlying issues causing him to have such narrow food likes. Now we know so much more about eating problems and kids can get help. He can still get help now if he wants. It’s not normal to eat only a handful of foods. But just so you know, forcing food is never recommended with sensitive eaters!

Also, it sounds like his parents did not eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Studies show kids tend to follow in their parents footsteps when it comes to eating. Maybe this has less to them not making him eat and more with the limited menu he grew up with.


Michael July 20, 2016 at 8:57 pm


I have used the one bite rule on myself for foods that I had an aversion to, and I can tell you, it does work with time and persistence. Many vegetables can have a slightly bitter aftertaste, which in nature, can be an indication of toxicity. It is a parent’s job to teach their child which foods are ok to eat, despite being slightly bitter. The result of teaching your child to have a diverse diet, is a healthier child, and subsequently, a healthier adult. Sometimes parents must be firm with their children for their own good.


Elle October 30, 2015 at 7:20 am

The difference is offering & introducing foods, not forcing them. I never forced my children to eat when they weren’t hungry. My rules were you must join the family at the dinner table and no dessert/junk food snacks (not hungry = not hungry for anything). New foods always were put on their plates & they were encouraged to try them, never forced. My sons eat & love almost everything as adults. I was forced to eat as a child and struggle with a healthy relationship with food.


Maya August 6, 2016 at 11:27 am

It is what i think, same my husband, he just like spicy oily food, no greens ! My kid is so picky that i am hating myself FOR FORCING HIM but there is no option!


FakeName July 1, 2015 at 8:41 am

I was often force-fed as a child and all it resulted in was a fear of food and an eating disorder.


Melanie July 6, 2015 at 8:58 pm

I was expected to finish my food as a child. I did it and have suffered zero I’ll effects from it. I’m not picky at all. I’ll eat anything and everything. I love food so much, I went to culinary school and became a baker. Everyone is different. Just because food aversion exists does not mean every child will develop one after being made to eat their veggies.


Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD July 7, 2015 at 2:28 pm

You are right Melanie and is even addressed in the study I cite — a smaller portion of people felt being made to eat helped expand their palate. But this is a risk parents take when use forced eating as a strategy as its more likely to have a negative than positive effect. Plus, even if you parents did not force you to eat, you probably would have grown up to love food just as much. Especially if they continued exposed you to different foods and didn’t feed you the same things all the time. Another downside to “making kids eat” also supported by research is can negatively affect food regulation causing weight issues later in life. Just something to think about.


Jenn January 26, 2016 at 6:32 pm

I feel the long term affect in my life has been that I have a hard time regulating on my own and am overweight. As a child, I had to sit at the table until I cleaned my plate. Food was very controlled and I didn’t have a choice as to item or quantity. And, I pretty much didn’t have choices about anything else … they were handed down. When I started college (this sounds sad) I began to dream (literally) about the food I could choose and consume on my own. Now, over the past few years, I am coming to realize that I need to loose this weight i’ve gained since leaving home as it’s amounted to more than I had ever imagined. During a pre-surgery consult with a nurse, (for a procedure a few years ago) she came out and said “you still have time to change your habits”, which the comment at the time seemed totally unsolicited as we were just going over my basic info and pre-surgery prep. Five years and two kids later, with a hectic schedule and high stress, i’m starting to experience things physically that I never have before. But being consistent and sticking to an intake pattern is a huge challenge … it’s like I need an entire brain/food shift.


ashley July 7, 2015 at 10:22 am

My son who is now 18 months has been seeing an occupational therapist for the past 4 months. He still only eats baby food stage 2. Any chunks in his food his automatically spits out. We have figured out it isn’t any issues with his mouth or throat bc I have seen him eat a few things a few times. He has chewed a few bites of chicken. He now eats bananas by holding them and loves cheetto puffs bc they melt. I do believe in my heart of hearts believe he will eat when ready too but he is sensitive to texture. Would this book be recommended for someone like him??


Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD July 7, 2015 at 2:30 pm

You might want to check out the book Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating http://www.amazon.com/Helping-Child-Extreme-Picky-Eating/dp/162625110X


Janet December 8, 2015 at 4:27 pm

Hey Ashley, My son has special needs. He won’t eat anything solid/chunky(well use to not.) Now, he will eat a lil more variety with one trick, YOGURT. He loves yogurt, use to that’s all he’d eat along with drinking Pediasure. Then, he got a new speech therapist, who suggested putting yogurt on spoon in front/on tip of other foods, not mixed in. That has worked wonders!! He will now eat foods with mashed pop, without the yogurt. If no mashed, then still gotta have yogurt. He eats more foods now though like, pastas, beans, fruits, veg, meats if cut very small, not ground though. He don’t drink Pediasure anymore, so I had to start giving a multivitamin daily to make up for loss, since his iron got low. Hope some of that helps!!


Maxine July 10, 2015 at 11:22 am

I think it’s good to keep in mind that there are extremes in both cases. How much do parents really force the child, type of punishment if they don’t comply, how lenient they are, when do the parents stop trying, is the parent a good cook at all, what cultural pressures are there? Looking back I was not a picky eater, but I was pushed to eat a lot; to always finish my plate which was a huge portion. Now I have a hard time eating smaller portions. She was a good cook, but some dishes I didn’t like that much. Growing up I saw the same ingredients cooked differently and now eat them well and even crave them. For example she would cook spinach until it was a paste. This would bring out the strong iron taste which was hard to get used to. Growing up I tried it raw in a salad and it was delicious. I even tried it very lightly sautéed with soy sauce and sesame oil and again it was delicious.
I don’t think parents should push too much, but they shouldn’t give up trying either. Some parents are absolutely awful cooks and then they blame the kid for not eating well.
My family taught me how to cook and I appreciate the huge variety of way to prepare food and how it affects people.


melis August 22, 2015 at 1:41 pm

I was forced to eat when I was a kid.
Once my mom cooked something (horse beans) I really didn’t like and said that was the only food and we couldn’t afford to buy or cook anything else that day. Since then, I eat pretty much anything but horse beans. I don’t think it’s physiological. I really don’t like the taste.

Even though that was a milestone for me to eat ‘my vegetables’, what really made me start eating every thing was to start cooking myself (in college) and traveling to different countries and experiencing their cuisines.

I used to watch food shows. I believe it helped me to understand even if your mom doesn’t cook that way, there are different ways to cook things, and they can look /taste pretty good.

As a kid, I didn’t want to eat the same thing couple days in a raw, or I wasn’t understanding when a dish didn’t turn out so good. Having to cook for myself around college, completely changed this.

I don’t have kids yet but I’m planning to help my kids to start cooking early with giving them small challenges. I really believe that is the key to develop a mutual understanding between parents and kids about food.


Faith August 31, 2015 at 7:59 pm

I’m another who was forced to eat what was on my plate as a child, to the point of sitting at the table for over an hour after dinner while whatever-it-was just got cold and nastier. When I did finally choke down certain things, cooked peas being number one on the list, they invariably came back up and I was accused of ‘making’ myself throw up (yeah, like I wanted to taste that stuff again, Mom!)
Do not do this to your kids!

For me, it was usually a texture or smell thing, as I would happily eat most of those same, upchuck inducing veggies as long as they were raw. None of that has changed, and today I still won’t eat most vegetables if they are cooked. All my parents really accomplished was to make sure that the smell of cooked peas, corn, beans or carrots makes me nauseous. Funnily enough, I actually liked cooked spinach, broccoli and cauliflower; still do, too.


Mag November 4, 2015 at 11:20 pm

Hi All,
I am a mother of two and I will like to get your opinion on whether a teacher in a school should force a child to eat back food that has been spat out (for one reason or the other) from her mouth?


Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD November 5, 2015 at 8:01 am

In my opinion, that needs to be addressed with the principal.


EG December 13, 2015 at 1:45 am

I was forced to eat food and “clean my plate”, I was threatened, yelled at, punished with spankings, wooden spoons, made to sit in front of a hunk of dead meat until bedtime. It was awful. I started eating to avoid punishment but then i’d throw it back up. 20+ years later and I can’t eat in front of people because I get so anxious I can’t swallow, I eat to avoid heartburn and stomach pain and get nutrients from ensure type drinks, vitamins and other supplements.


Desean Jackson February 4, 2016 at 10:36 am

Same reason you dont want to be forced to like something or forced to listen or watch something, forced to do this or that is the same reason you shouldnt force feed your child. This is the cause of addiction, People know when enough is enough for them when they aren’t brainwashed even babies. Their body will tell them not to eat anymore and they will listen because its them, they are looking out for themselves. This is all addiction is, people telling you what to do but not how to think for yourself so you end up with addiction making you do stuff you dont want to do. I wanna discuss this so reply if you want.


Celia May 2, 2016 at 6:24 am

Im curious what you base this on. I was forced to eat, and also told how to run my life. I do have certain addictive traits, though I can’t quite see the link?


domain mentions March 5, 2016 at 6:29 pm

Look, if a kid doesn’t like the flavor of some kind of food you’re forcing him to eat, nothing is going to make it taste good to the kid. For some unknown reason, kids who are tasters or supertasters are always born to parents who are human garbage disposals! DON’T TORTURE YOUR KIDS!!!


Jules July 31, 2016 at 6:34 am

I was a taster and I wasn’t born to a human garbage disposal, but I guess I was a rare exception


Celia May 2, 2016 at 6:16 am

I was forced to eat as a child. I remember meal after meal after meal sitting and crying while I watched my sisters eating up their dessserts and I had to go without. My father would only eat meat potatoes and veg so thats all we had every day. My mother wasnt a particularly good cook and we always had cheap offcuts of meat that I struggled to chew a lot of times. Veggies were often burnt and I disliked potatoes with a vengeance! I remember trying to force down a boiled potato just so I could have my dessert but in the end I had to spit it out because the taste was so disgusting. I can eat pretty much everything these days but having an overbearing mother has left a lot of mental scars.


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Ache May 22, 2016 at 9:09 am

Yeah, I wasn’t allowed to leave the table until I finished everything. Problem was I would gag, and I would still be sitting at the table two hours later. I have a hard time eating still, often skipping meals, especially when I’m stressed I forget to eat meals. I’m not going to blame my parents, they were probably just scared. Both my other siblings ate well, and seeing me since I was a baby be so skinny (my family is naturally skinny in the beginning of their lives usually though), and they probably worried that it would look bad as if they’re neglecting me but not my other siblings.
However, yeah I’m still struggling with this, and probably my means of protest when I’m overwhelmed without knowing it. It makes me exhausted though. ugh


Olivia May 31, 2016 at 10:40 am

When I was a kid my mom never made me eat foods I hated but when introducing a new food I always had to take 1 bite. She never made me finish my plate but she did ask me to try. Now I love trying new food and I have no issues with food.


Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD June 2, 2016 at 9:22 pm

Thanks Olivia. The one-bite rule can work good for some kids. But do you think that’s what made you a good eater today or the fact that your mom made meals and exposed you to a lot of food?


Brandon Wood June 2, 2016 at 8:26 pm

When I was young in primary school they had a sort of ‘clean plate’ policy, they wouldn’t let you leave the dinner hall unless you had eaten all of or most of your food. As a 5-6-7 year old this was traumatising, often I would find myself crying in the dinning hall because I couldn’t eat anymore yet I wasn’t allowed to leave unless I had. Over time I would feel nervous about eating and this he created an eating anxiety within me now. I am 23 years old now and soon to be attending therapy because when I’m nervous or anxious about something I can’t eat. It’s ruined many dates and prevented me from travelling and living my life. This force feeding style lead to serious problems in my life now and I’m angry and disgusted at my school for doing this to me.


Taima July 31, 2016 at 3:08 pm

I’ve had a similar experience and when I developed an eating disorder in my early teens the school hired someone to follow me around (even to the toilet) and watch me eat (finish) lunch every day. At family dinners they would always guilt me with the starving children in Africa line. Then certain family members would take personal offence if I refused their food or attempted to provide/cook my own alternative. It would come to shouting and swearing at me because an adult wants to choose what and when she eats (I’m also 23). It was torture. After a restrictive menu at home, the second I had cash of my own and could go off-site unsupervised when I started attending college, I spent A LOT of money or sweets. I felt like I was making up for my childhood and had a huge problem hoarding the stuff in my room, eating only in my room so nobody was watching/pressuring/judging me etc.I get extremely anxious at meal times and on edge feeling like people are scoring my table manners (I have had friend’s parents compliment them before but it just made me more self conscious). I recently got kicked out of my bf’s house for looking so uncomfortable and failing to make small talk at a meal to the point his parents angrily said I ruined their dinner. Mealtimes are like entering a psychological warzone for me these days. I get consumed with feelings of helplessness,resentment and guilt.


Doreen June 5, 2016 at 3:51 pm

I was forced to eat foods as a child, not being allowed to leave the table until I did. I would sit at the table for hours! My friends consider me “abused” by my family! ~~~~~ I refused to have children, and now, I am a 52 year old childFREE adult. I promised myself not to ever treat a child like that EVER!


andreas July 4, 2016 at 9:21 pm

I was forced to eat vegetables and if I didn’t they would serve it to me every meal until I ate it now I cannot eat any vegetables because of that experience


Metin August 4, 2016 at 3:08 am

I dislike tomatoes, cheese, olives, onions, some veggies etc. Pretty much I said all the elements of breakfast right? After all the frustrating meals I had when I was a child and now this is the result.
I can’t eat them, they make me nauseaous and disgusted. When I look down at the table with the sadness they humiliate even more by saying ”what are you doing, are you praying?” And my brother is fat 180cm and 110kg. I hate them.


Zed August 9, 2016 at 6:16 pm

I was a “taster” as a boy, and I still am. Non-tasters can’t understand that some things will ALWAYS taste bitter to us. Unfortunately, tasters are invariably born to parents who are human garbage disposals—these parents will eat anything regardless of how nasty it tastes. Vegetables still taste as bad to me at age 50 as they did when I was 10. The ONLY “torture food” I liked later on in life is corned beef. OTOH it’s a good thing I chose never to become a father, my kids would all be toothless, fat, and happy because their pop let them stuff themselves with hamburgers and candy bars.


Stacia August 13, 2016 at 11:12 am

I’m 40 and was raised by older parents and a very strict, old school grandmother so there was absolutely no choice but the eat what was on my plate or go hungry. My mom didn’t make kid friendly food and if I didn’t want what was served, I didn’t eat. Eventually, the rule was adjusted to a small bowl of cereal since I was eating so little and was so small for my age that the doctor was concerned.

When i was little there so many times I was made to sit at the dinner table and eat everything on my plate – after my grandmother told my mom that was the way things were suppose to be. Eventually I just stopped eating. There was one time when i was probably in the 2nd grade that at around 10pm, I remember my mom and grandmother conversing in whispers about the fact it was well past my bedtime and I hadn’t eaten anything. So, for breakfast – the dinner I refused to eat (pork chop, rice and tomato casserole with canned green beans) so I didn’t eat again and it probably went on for 3-4 days.

I think it was all that time being so hungry but not being able to have food I would tolerate eating that led me to an eating disorder. I’m 150 lbs overweight and considering surgery. Drinking only protein shakes rather than eating probably wouldn’t be a bad option for me since there is such a long list of food I won’t eat (most meat, raw vegetables, anything at all spicy, anything with an crispy or airy texture – including potato chips, especially rice cake type texture, anything with artificial flavors, anything with melted cheese on it, and I really hate tomatoes.). Pretty much, I like mashed potatoes. :) People are so surprised that I’m obese but I cannot tolerate eating most junk food.

Food was a constant fight with me and my parents and especially my grandmother. I had a miserable relationship with her and pretty much my whole childhood memories are fights over eating and being so hungry. Every vacation was a huge fight over food, every holiday.

I’m glad there’s the resources like this but it seems like there’s so much pressure now for parents to serve their kids so much healthy foods that kids who have issues with textures that I worry what those kids are going through.


James Anderson August 24, 2016 at 8:47 pm

This story is complete garbage! Are we really supposed to believe that 100 college students reflecting upon their eating habits as a child and their perception of how harshly their parents forced them to eat new foods represents good data? REALLY?!?! The opinions of 100 young adults is NOT representative of kids everywhere!

Great copy/paste article completely lacking in thought and research.Excellent example of how flawed research leads to flawed results and a perpetuation of flawed thinking.


Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD August 27, 2016 at 8:26 am

I point out the limitation of the study. But this is in line with the rest of the research feeding kids. Controlling feeding styles (like pressure, forcing or restriction) are associated with more obesity and disordered eating. I have written many other articles and interviewed dozens of experts. Also, if you want to read all the comments you will see how many people have suffered from being made to eat food before they were ready. If you think about other aspects of learning you can’t force things like reading and writing. Just because you can make a child eat a food, doesn’t mean you should. Even something like learning to clean your room takes time and kids get a little better every year. Why do we think young children should eat everthing adults eat? Like anything, this takes time. If you have any evidence showing that forcing kids to eat is good for them by all means please share that data.


sara September 23, 2016 at 4:02 am

Well said


Dan Mill September 26, 2016 at 11:54 am

I was physically FORCE Fed foods. My dad would squeeze my cheeks and mother would force food in. Forced foods included potato salad, mashed potatoes, salads, gristled ham sandwich, most vegetables and fruits. I was also forced by getting whipped. To this day I don’t eat any of those foods and many others. I also never forced my kids to eat. I would wad up food in napkins and toss them. Store the food in my cheek even, although I would gag sometimes and get caught. It has been an issue my entire life, especially social eating. My wife has been great though. She knows what I went through and either she will fix something separate that I like or I will fix something I like. I eat mostly meat and some breads. Only beef, pork and chicken though. Lots of breaded frozen meats too, like chicken nuggets and strips and patties. I hated my childhood in large part to this treatment.


Dan Mill September 26, 2016 at 1:36 pm

I’m 49 years old by the way. I was fed by force up to 12 or 13 years old.


mara October 1, 2016 at 4:33 pm

I might be a little for this article, but I really needed to chip in.

When I was a child my mother would do anything to keep me from looking pale or thin, because otherwise people would think she was neglecting me; my father had badly adjusted dentures and poor table manners, so he didn’t really chew his food. He put another spoonful or piece in my mouth before I swallowed. When I ate on my own, I did the same. Put one piece of food after another until it was too big to swallow and I had to spit it out. I was made believe I was in fact the only child at school and in the family that was too thin, while everybody else was supposedly normal. (In fact I wasn’t that different from other children, it’s just that I was the only one who was bullied).

I wasn’t a picky eater or a slow eater, I quietly accepted that one is not supposed to have their favourite food every day, I would eat fast as much as I could and then I would just sit there with my mouth full for what felt as hours, before I was “absolved” (the meal was an obligation and a punishement in one).

Now as an adult I have an unspecified eating disorder, irregular changes in apetite, feeling of relief when I don’t have to eat something, occasionally I can’t swallow the mouthful and I even have dreams where I’m spitting out the food but there’s still more.

Adult people bully me, though I’m average size, they can be passive agressive when I refuse to eat what the bought/prepared. I’ve put on weight recently, I was satisfied thinking people will finally accept me, but they don’t see it.

When I’m cooking on my own I make very different meals from what my mom and other people from her generation cook.


Natasha October 8, 2016 at 2:59 pm

Don’t do this to your kids. My mom does this to me, and I always feel sick afterwards. This contributed to my EDNOS. I have an eating disorder now. I can’t eat anything anymore without throwing up. I can’t feel good about myself anymore because of how overweight this method made me. I was a healthy 135 lbs at 5’6. Normal, right? My mom force feeding me over the summer caused me to gain almost 20 lbs. Now I can barely fit into my clothes, and I can’t look at the mirror without crying. PARENTS, STOP DOING THIS! DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT FORCING YOUR CHILD TO EAT WILL HELP THEM?! HINT: IT DOESN’T!


Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD October 8, 2016 at 4:43 pm

Natasha — can you tell me why your mom started focuing you to eat all of a sudden?


Wendy October 12, 2016 at 7:35 am

I was spanked if I didn’t eat at least 1 bite of everything that was on the table.
I remember at age 8 or 9 sitting in front of a plate of peas and my older brother and my father went into the back forest, cut off a branch(rod) and pealed it. I was then spanked for not eating.
Before that I was spanked with a wooden spoon or cutting board with a handle.
My parents hung the rod above the fridge, always as a warning.
My last spanking was when I was 12!!
I still cannot stomach a lot of foods and either really like foods or cannot eat them at all.
I was also not allowed desert unless I finished my plate.
Now I have been on fad diets for 25 years and cannot stay at a healthy weight. I either go on an extreme salad only type diet or give up and just eat deserts and breakfast foods 80% of the time and gain 40 lbs. Then I cycle back. My weight loss issue does seem to be very linked to the picky eating and control over what I eat. Spanking is SOOOO wrong, no matter what it is for. It makes the parent higher than a child which is the opposite of humanism.
As I try to raise my kids, I am trying to unlearn the harmful patterns my parents set up in my mind when I was too young to have any defences against it. Being bullied by parents into eating, being traumatized and beaten as an innocent child has a life long affect!
Ask any adult if they would beat another adult for not eating food on their plate and get away with it in the courts? Spanking is the PC word beating a child!. Adults who beat each other get jail time!!


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