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Teen diets report sparks Thanksgiving conversation

Teens are known for trying new things - from the clothes they wear to the foods they eat. This month’s Mott Poll report focused on the subject of teens’ special diets and how they impact their families. The report has generated discussion from media reporters and commenters speaking up about their personal experiences. Here’s a roundup of all the conversation surrounding the report in the past week.

Whose responsibility is it to manage a teen's diet around holiday meals?

This Mott Poll report was the centerpiece of conversation in a New York Times Well blog post: Special Diets Can Heighten Tensions at the Holiday Dinner Table. Roni Caryn Rabin interviewed a mother of two teenagers who are on special diets: one because of allergies and one because of choice. She notes that people may be more willing to accommodate dietary needs in the case of an allergy, but become frustrated or offended at the expectation they accommodate diets chosen for other reasons. Many commenters agreed, saying teens who go on a special diet voluntarily should be responsible for preparing their own food and bringing it to Thanksgiving dinner.

Is this normal? How should parents respond to teens on special diets?

Reuters Health took a different angle on the Mott Poll report, focusing on what parents should do about teens on special diets: Thanksgiving When Teens Don’t Eat Like the Rest of the Family.  The reporter, Lisa Rapaport focused on the challenges parents face when teens go on special diets – like finding a restaurant to eat at and preparing meals that meet everyone’s dietary restrictions. Her interviews encourage parents to be partners rather than adversaries with dieting teens, giving parents the reassurance that choosing a diet is part of teens gaining independence and growing up. However, a nutritionist also contributed to the conversation, urging parents to speak to a registered dietician if their teen tries a new fad diet, because they are not always healthy.

Solutions to make it through the holidays

The NPR food blog The Salt also covered this month’s Mott Poll: When The Kids Go Vegan, It Can Be A Recipe For A Stressful Holiday Meal. The writer, Angus Chen, interviewed a nutritionist and professor of health behavior who has a vegan daughter. Her perspective: lean into the special diet and work with the teen toward solutions, such as preparing dishes for holiday meals together.

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