From the moment we are born — we have the ability to eat intuitively.
It comes naturally — we eat when we’re hungry and we stop when we’re full.
This is how it begins for all of us. We eat to function, get energy, and to stay healthy and happy. It’s important to keep this narrative as children grow up — especially when it comes to food.
Today, mental health is prioritized more than ever — which is amazing. When our mental health is good, we’re good. Our bodies are good— and it means we’re treating ourselves with respect. (Which is how we should be treating ourselves.)
This narrative continues with relationships with food.
Social media and body image play a factor in the way we perceive ourselves. Sometimes we become overly self-critical because we don’t look a certain way.
Thankfully, this narrative is changing with mental health accessibility and body positivity — because we are all beautiful and should feel as such.
To maintain a positive relationship with ourselves and our bodies, we must maintain a positive relationship with food.
This starts from the beginning. As guiders to our young ones, it’s important to model and teach them a healthy, positive relationship with food. Doing so can help our children grow up to be confident, healthy eaters and make healthier choices and decisions.
Here are some important aspects to consider when it comes to making sure your child maintains a healthy relationship with food.
Do not label any food good or bad — or treat it as a reward.
To keep your children’s relationship with food healthy, it’s important for it to when talking about different foods, remain neutral. Use non-food rewards for your child. Try your best to stop yourself from calling foods “good” or “bad”
When you use negative/positive words to describe food, this can tie their worth to their food choices. Bad usually comes with punishment and guilt. Your child will probably feel shameful for eating certain food — this is something you should avoid.
Instead of categorizing food as “good” or “bad” — try describing them. For example, you could categorize them as “everyday foods” or “every now and then foods” or be more concise — “sometimes foods”. This help keeps food talk neutral and prevents food from becoming a sore subject when it comes to what they consume.
Exposing your child to talks of diets or putting them on a diet can be detrimental to their relationship with food.
Well, as adults we do it to promote weight loss or change our lifestyles towards a healthier option. Children are still growing and don’t need to lose weight through diets. All they need to view food as an energy source, and a source of joy. Exposing your children to diet talk can set the harmful tone towards food and make it confusing for them. They won’t understand why you’re trying to restrict yourself from certain foods — thus setting up the potential for a bad relationship towards food.
Teach them from a young age that food is helping them grow into the strong, wonderful person they are becoming! Save diet talk for when they’re not around.
When you implement these two practices and ways of thinking about food around your children, you’re sure to help set them up for a positive relationship with food. This will carry on throughout their lives and help them feel more confident, healthier, and positive about themselves — which is all we could ever want as parents.
Taking these necessary steps will only create a better future for them. Make food a neutral subject in the home, introduce them to foods that will make them feel good and strong, and this will set them up for success.
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