How do we teach our kids how to have a healthy realtionship with food?
We need to eat to live. It is not something we can just remove from our lives if it stresses us out. We should be putting a lot more focus into learning and specifically teaching our children how to eat in a healthy way. This does not mean no junk or “yummy” food ever. Quite the opposite. We need to teach our kids moderation. We need to give them the control to make the right decisions. This will empower them to live healthy, happy lives.
This starts with us, with the parents and specifically the moms. We form the backbone of the family. We also control most of what our families eat. So, moms, in a world where the dieting /health industries make up Billions of $$$$ “s, we need to ask ourselves what is our relationship with food like? Do we eat regular meals? Do we sit down to eat? Are we eating in your car? On the run? Do we emotionally eat?
This is important, our children watch and mimic everything we do. They learn what is ‘normal” from us. We have a responsibility to take this seriously.
It is time to get our habits right and be good role models for our children.
How much to eat?
It is vital that we and our children learn portion control. An easy way of doing this is looking at our hands. The palm area for protein. A closed fist for starch. An open fist for vegetables and a thumb for fats.
As they are a bit older and wanting to make their own decisions about their meals, they must understand the calories in versus calories out concept.
It is also great to teach them how to read food labels. This allows them to make better decisions.
When to eat?
This has been over complicated over the last couple of years. We need to learn what hunger feels like and that it is a cue to eat. If we are not hungry first thing in the morning, that is ok. We can break our fast (breakfast) later in the day. The timing is based on what works for us and our bodies, as well as our schedules.
What to eat?
Oh man, I could talk about this for hours. The important thing to teach our kids is : you cannot be on a diet/lifestyle plan 100% for ever. Then it is not the right diet/eating plan for you. Yes, some people swear by keto and others are vegan. The key thing is that you are not restricting to the point that, at some point you will binge. The binge-restrict cycle can be incredibly damaging to your body and self -esteem..
A focus on eating 80% whole, natural foods (they do not have more than 3 ingredients on the box) or ideally are fresh produce and 20 % less healthy foods allows for flexibility and moderation.
It is important to mention knowing the difference between a food intolerance and allergy at this point. Just because a friend cannot eat Gluten, does not make it bad for us. It makes it bad for that person. Remember moderation is key.
Where to eat?
In an age of fast everything, we have made food and eating an inconvenience. We no longer sit down as a family to enjoy a meal. We eat on the run; we eat pre-packed foods and do not give ourselves time to enjoy how wonderful eating can be as an experience. Slow down and enjoy your meals with loved ones as often as possible.
When not to eat?
When you are not hungry – simple right, but think about the last time we forced our kids into eating a meal that they may not have necessarily been hungry for. When this happens we lose the ability to eat when we are hungry. Another is to eat for comfort, when we are sad, when we are stressed. We should rather teach our children how to manage stress. How to express their feelings and use other coping mechanisms. We should choose better words to describe people. Rather use healthy and unhealthy instead of fat or skinny. We can use those for foods too. That delicious ice-cream is not as healthy as your supper. So, we have it every now and then.
Want to create better healthy habits for you and your children?
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