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 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 andvegetables? 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?