Once I read that kids are like sponges. They soak every experience they witness. And since parents have the greatest influence on their kids, creating a healthy child with a healthy relationship with food is parents’ job. I’m sharing with you a blog post including some lessons to guide you on how to talk with your children about food.
1: Don’t label food as “good” or “bad” instead name them food that help us grow (that should be available at home) and fun food that’s enjoyed “sometimes” (outside the house).
2: Children’s taste buds change and develop over time, so it is important to keep trying foods, even if it wasn’t an instant favorite the first time. You may need to offer a child a new food several times before they will accept it, so try new foods with familiar ones and always encourage taking a bite or two. And since the children are watching, you have to eat your veggies too!
3: Get them involved in the kitchen, let them cook or plant veggies, this way they most probably are going to eat what they’ve prepared.
4: keep the strict dieting or intense exercise regimen to yourself! Don’t imply what you’re following on your kids.Even if you are losing weight in a healthy and responsible manner, telling kids “carbs are bad” or “I have to exercise to lose this gut” can create a judgmental and negative picture of food and exercise. This can potentially lead them to engage in food restricting behaviors and can begin the cycle of thought that exercise is a punishment, not a reward for what your body can achieve.
5: Educate them on healthy living rather than focusing on a healthy weight.
Overweight kids are often teased in school and weight gain in childhood can result in chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Instead of talking about weight gain and weight loss, it is better to introduce the concept of a healthy lifestyle which includes cooking nutritious foods, playing team sports, eating sweets and treats in moderation.
6: Ditch the Lebanese “5alles sa7nak” thing.
Children have a more attuned sense of hunger and fullness than adults, and when we push them to eat beyond what their body needs, we teach them to overeat. As a parent, it is your job to provide nutritious meals and supply an appropriate portion size at the beginning of the meal. Allow your child to stop if they are telling you they are full and allow extra fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, and veggies if they are still hungry.
7: Be body positive.
Celebrate that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and use body-positive language instead of body shaming language. Body positive language includes talking positively about yourself and others, emphasizing that you exercise for fun (not to achieve a certain shape), and never talking poorly about other people’s bodies. Kids pick up on your comments and remarks, internalize and repeat them. Give them words worth repeating to others, and to themselves.