As a dietitian and parent I am absolutely paranoid of my girls having a negative attitude towards food or to put it another way, fearing food as they are scared they will get fat. I’m really keen for them to have a healthy attitude to what they are eating.
I’m not a mother who restricts cake and chocolate. It’s a tough one, as all parents are entitled to their views on bringing up their children. I know of others who ban it completely. We eat nice things and to not let our child have it would be unfair really if we eat it in front of her. I’m all about moderation and having a healthy attitude to all foods so we always let the gremlin have small amounts of her favourite foods, as long as she eats her meals and has healthy snacks.
I also don’t really think you can avoid the discussions about healthy and unhealthy foods. Kids wants to know why they can’t eat biscuits for breakfast and have chocolate three times a day! They are curious and want answers. I feel shying away from answering within reason, can often fuel the nosey fire!
I’m not a psychologist but thought I would share some of my tips I’m trying to use to teach my daughter about a healthy diet and lifestyle:
- Answer their questions. Why should I eat my fruit and. vegetables? Because they have lots of vitamins in them which are good for you and help you grow. They also help you go for a poo nice and easily! (TMI but true!)
- Don’t be afraid to be a bit scientific. Talk about protein in meat and eggs and how it helps them grow strong. Tell them cereal has lots of energy in it for running about, milk is good for strong bones.
- Try not to link food to “getting fat”. In fact I have never used the word fat with my gremlin at all. Not yet anyway.
- If she wants more chocolate and has had enough, I explain too much isn’t good for her teeth or may make her feel poorly if she has too much. On the one time she scoffed too much at a birthday party, she actually got a tummy ache so this helped back up my rationale!
- On the contrary we have told her fruit and veg is good for her hair, skin and nails. She is a total girly girl and loves Princesses so shiny Princess hair is a good one.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about healthy and unhealthy foods. The gremlin can already tell me some of each and she knows having too much sugar isn’t good for her body or teeth.
- Talk about exercise in a positive way. As hubby and I go we tell the gremlin we go for our exercise but exercise helps to put us in a good mood and is good for healthy hearts. I have never mentioned I go to get in shape.
- Although we now order our shop online, she used to come shopping with me weekly and we would chat about the foods we were buying and why.
- I have started letting her help me cook for her sister when I am making her little meals. This is fun and I’m hoping Piglet’s current fruit love may rub off!!
I know the time will come when the gremlin and her sister use the word fat and I’m sure in time both will link it to over eating but for now I want her to learn about food and enjoy it. Ultimately, the time will come when she is making her own choices and I hope some of these methods will help her to make the right choices. Mealtimes are such an enjoyable part of our family day and I want to keep it that way.
What about you? Any tips to teach your kids about healthy eating and having a healthy attitude towards their diet?
Interesting post-I wrote some tips on my blog recently about how to in still healthy body image in your child (I had anorexia when i was a teen and although I am completely recovered I am of course anxious to do all I can to ensure my daughter doesn’t ever go near that path). My biggest one is be a good example. Eat how you’d like them to eat, enjoy food, explain food, grow food, make food as unemotional (not reward/bribe) but still something to be appreciated. The fact you have an awareness (plus professional knowledge) I am sure will hold you in good stead. #marvmondays
So important. I would hate ours to grow up with weird food aversions, that why I try not to restrict too much for fear that they will rebel? All in moderation. #marvmondays
Love this and it’s really important to get kids to have a good balanced diet as it is for us too. I actually asked Paul yesterday if he thinks we give Pops too many treats as I think it’s easy to get carried away after having Oliver who just didn’t get food. For me it’s about balance and providing they eat good most of the time, have the right amount of dairy, fibre, fruit and veg then the odd cake or chocolate won’t hurt! thanks for joining us for #marvmondays
It’s such a tricky one and I worry sometimes about the world we live in and how it will affect them over time. We do very similar to you and Monkey eats a pretty good diet on the whole (though not much in the way of fruit!). It’s interesting when they start school as he’s started talking about it in a way I’m not hugely fond of, about how he’d get a big tummy if he ate too much etc. It’s hard when you lose the control of some of the ways they learn but makes it even more important to have more positive messages at home I think! Xx
I have a really fussy 2 year old who I need to cross this bridge with when she’s old enough to understand. At the moment she just tantrums when she doesn’t get chocolate for breakfast so distraction is key in this house at the moment! 🙂
Hi, it’s a tricky one but I guess like many things in life it’s a balancing act. It is important we know about our food and help prevent any adversions to food #MarvMondays
Hi Sarah. Just to give a different perspective – Munchkin (7) has some serious issues with food. Up to age 3 she would literally eat anything, then from out of nowhere she started dropping foods one by one until there was barely anything left she would eat. We’ve tried everything under the sun and now we have had to just completely back off. We follow the principles of the “Trust Model” or “Division of Responsibility” by Ellen Satter. Her diet is terrible in most people’s eyes but to us it’s just a relief she’s actually eating. She was so skinny at one point it was scary. People assume if you just don’t give them junk they will eventually eat but it’s just not true in many cases. Both me and her Dad eat a huge range of foods so it’s not down to modelling either.
I’ve got about a million food issues that I’m very conscious of not passing on to L, so I love reading these tips. We also don’t restrict his food, I was restricted growing up and guess what, as soon as I could get my hands on sweets I ate all of them, ALL of them! Thankfully at the moment L is great, loves trying food and will even tell us off of we don’t try things! #bestandworst
This is a really helpful post. I’m really worried about giving my child an unhealthy attitude to food. #bestandworst
Back again for #bestandworst thanks for hosting as always xxx
Great post, I think being a good example yourself is the most important. My kids eat meat but I am a vegetarian so we have discussed food production. We also have allergies so safety is discussed. #bestandworst
Great tips, I follow all of these too I’m happy to say. As my son is more into cars we likened the body to a car and food is the fuel, the better the fuel the better the body/car works and also if the car doesn’t move for a long time the battery runs out or it goes rusty so being active is also important. It really worked for him when he was younger. He’s nearly 8 now and is really knowledgeable about different foods. He still loves his cakes and chocolate (don’t we all), but he knows too many make him feel poorly.
Great suggestions! Such an important topic. I was pleased to see they had covered healthy and not healthy food in school which was good. I use the ‘big and strong’ line a lot but specifying what body part it helps is great. As you say, moderation is everything! If you say no, they’ll want it more. #bestandworst
That’s such a sensible and level-headed approach. Eat the good stuff and then have a little of something less healthy. Love this 🙂
Ooo I love this post – I’m glad to see what you do still allow treats and try to maintain a balance between treats and the reasons why we have these in moderation. Alfie is not yet older enough to explain why we eat what we eat, but as someone who has always had a healthy appetite, I worry all the time about feeding him the right foods and making him overweight but it is true what you said about avoiding the word fat and making your children feel bad about their bodies – I can imagine for you with two daughters it is even more important to have a good body image #bestandworst
We are going through the stage that he eats everything at nursery, but at weekends will only eat his breakfast, crisps, sandwiches, pasta and yoghurts. He does love fruit though. I am not that bothered at the moment as he does eat really well during the week #bestandworst
Really good post Sarah! And I didn’t know you were a dietician! I love these tips and will definitely take them on board with how i talk about food/health with my two 🙂 xx
What a great post with great suggestions. I think this is so important. I have instilled this so much in my daughter. She loves healthy food so much. She will never turn down a veggie or a fruit. Makes me smile every single time. I just caught her yesterday eating my mini peppers out of the fridge! #bestandworst
I love that the Gremlin eats healthy because she want shiny princess hair haha. My 3 year old is so fussy eith food, I have always tried to get him to eat well but it is such a struggle. I really hope that in our attempts to encourage him to eat more healthy food we haven’t made him.jwbr any bad feeling about himself xx #bestandworst
Thanks for the tips – free tips from a dietician is always handy! 🙂 #bestandworst
Fantastic tips here. I particularly love the idea of having princess hair. #bestandworst
They get taught so much in school nowadays too – BB comes home with all sorts of questions about what is healthy and what’s unhealthy #bestandworst
We’re trying to do the same with our daughter as we don’t want her to be hung up about certain foods and body image. We never ever talk about weight or fatness in front of the children and have stopped family members from discussing their weight in front of them too. Growing up in a household of 4x women and 1x man my mother always talked about balance in our diets and eating everything but in moderation. We also didn’t have any scales in the house which helped a lot.
She is becoming more fussy and will often automatically say no to foods but I do find that getting her to help with the preparing of food really helps with her attitude to eating it.
I’ll be taking your tips on board too in the hope of avoiding any major issues as both my son and daughter grow up.
Thank you for a fab post and for hosting! #bestandworst