Does restricting food make children want it more?
Research shows that by making foods unavailable they become more attractive. To test this we took a classroom of four and five year olds and examined their reaction to restricted treats over the week.
First, we had to find two foods that all the children were nonplussed about- we tested them with a range of dried fruit snacks and mangos and raisins were equally indifferent in the children’s preferences. Then the fun began. Every day, at snack time, we put the two bowls of snacks side by side and told the children that on the first whistle they had 15 minutes of unrestricted access to the mango. At the second whistle they had only five minutes of snack time to eat the raisins.
"there was a stampede to reach the forbidden fruit"
We watched the children day by day as the mango fell out of favour and the kids began cravin’ raisins. To begin with the children snacked voraciously on the mango but were more excited when it was raisin time. By the end of the week there was a stampede to reach the forbidden fruit, and the mango was looking less and less attractive.
The same kids who were indifferent to both snacks at the beginning of the week couldn’t get enough of the raisins by the end.
So, by restricting snacks you may have the adverse effect of making your children desire them even more and even encourage them to hide their snacking habits.
Take a look at our Takeaway Tips on how to feed your kids