In a world where adults struggle to choose a healthy diet suitable to their body type, doing the same for kids becomes challenging. Parents try to execute the knowledge that has either been passed from their predecessors or obtained from the internet.
The bigger goal of promoting a healthy relationship with food is keeping the children away from the prevalent diet culture. Let’s face it, dieting increases our chances of being unhappy, so we do not want to pass this habit on to the kids. So what do we do?
We talked to moms who know exactly how you feel, and here are 8 tips they want to share with you!
Help them listen to their bodies
Often, while listening to everyone around us, we forget that the kids are the ones getting impacted by this equation. It is crucial to understand what they want and build on it. This does not mean allowing sweets as dinner but letting them choose their favorites amongst the veggies and letting them stop when they feel full.
Skip the good food, bad food part
If you are hungry and there is only a bar of chocolate available, that becomes good food in this situation. Therefore, teaching your kids how balance is more important works better than reprimanding them upon eating food that is bad in your opinion. Children are very smart. There is a bigger chance of your child avoiding sweets before dinner if you reason with them rather than imposing a decision. Talk to them about the food, attach value to it, and voila, you have yourself a child who chooses carrots over candies.
Cookies are not rewards
The 'reward' method only leads to children getting tempted and excited for candies and cookies. If your child chooses to eat his lentils on the condition that he gets to have ice cream after, s/he will develop the habit of quickly finishing their plate without tasting the food. This will only encourage them to view their plate as an obstacle between them and their favorite part. This is what we are trying to eliminate.
Body positivity impacts food positivity
People love to comment on how fat your kid is getting, or how slim they are. In either case, you are a bad mother for letting them eat too much or too little. During those times, our kids look up to us. If we focus on their weight, they will develop a negative emotion towards the food they are consuming. Therefore, focus on nutrition and educate them about the same.
Practice what you preach
Remember the time you picked out tomatoes from your plate but got angry when your child refuses to eat mushrooms? This can go two ways – you can either put those tomatoes back or you can let your child get away this time. As a parent, the choice is yours.
Create a positive environment while eating
Invite the entire family to eat together. Studies show that eating together as a family can eliminate binging or purging. With time, children that eat with the family, associate good memories and positivity with their food. This helps them eat better and enjoy the meal. Moreover, they learn by observing their elders, thus, adopt various eating habits from around the table.
Finishing the plate is not the goal
The fuss around finishing the plate is unnecessary. The child will eventually learn to finish their plate, but as they are learning to eat well, the main focus should be eating to fill their bellies. Give kids the autonomy to choose how much goes on their plate and teach them to take only the amount that they can consume.
Patience is your friend
We know you are trying your best to create a healthier lifestyle for your kid, but remember your child is also trying their best to learn new concepts. As they grow, children absorb information like a sponge, and it can get difficult to learn everything at once. Patiently helping them through their mistakes also enhances your relationship with them.
As we said before, children are intelligent in more ways than we can fathom. Talking to them, encouraging them, and educating them helps them develop good habits.