Bar the Gate!

In Diet and Weight, Junk Food, Mindful Eating on May 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm
Drawbridge at Doornenburg Castle

Drawbridge at Doornenburg Castle

She surveyed the battlefield. Weary from day-long work, she knew that this fight was essential. Only she could protect her castle from the horde. Only she could defend her domain from the onslaught.
It was … suppertime.

Kurt Lewin came up with the phrase ‘Nutritional Gatekeeper‘ in 1943.  He used the term to describe the person in a household that made the food and mealtime decisions of what to buy, prepare, and eat.
As my (hopefully not too sexist) heroine demonstrates, most of the Nutritional Gatekeepers in our society are women. This is truly a position of power – these people shape our health in very profound ways.

The Gatekeeper decides what is bought, what is cooked, what is eaten, what is saved, and what is thrown away. The health of the whole family hinges on the Gatekeeper’s decisions.  As a doctor, even before I knew the term I knew how important this person’s role is.

If the Gatekeeper chooses healthy meals, the whole family is likely to be healthy and lean. If the Gatekeeper does not make healthy choices, often there is someone in the family with health issues related to obesity.
I knew if I could convince the Gatekeeper to change her/his outlook and goals, the whole family could be transformed.

Well child visits are one of the times this comes up in my office. Many scientists have shown that overweight kids are much more likely to become obese adults. In other words, kids who are too high on the growth curve are very likely to end up at an unhealthy weight when they grow up.

Even though it’s hard, I talk to parents about this from the first time it is a problem, sometimes before the child can talk. I remind them of how important fresh veggies and fruits are and I make sure they know how much I hate juice for kids.

Chocolate milk? Stop it. After-school snacks? Choose low-calorie ones like apples. No more bottle in the crib (which also causes ear infections!)  No more bottle after 18 months old.

Once the child’s weight and food habits are safe to talk about I approach the topic for the rest of the family. Remember: if the menu changes, everyone wins.

Eat Healthfully, Live Fully Healthy!™

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