How do you feel about food? Believe it or not, most American adults have some kind of hang-up about food. Most are not serious, simple things like not liking meat on the bone, or detesting brussels sprouts (that one is understandable), but some hang-ups are quite debilitating.
Imagine being a particularly fussy eater as an adult, never eating vegetables, or having to avoid all yellow food, what message does that send to your kids?
You Are A Role Model
When you have kids, your body and your life are no longer your own. You are responsible for caring for this little person and human babies are a lot more dependent than the young of most animals for a lot longer.
One of the best parts of being a parent is watching them grow into their own little personalities, but one of the most heartbreaking things is watching them develop issues and not knowing where they came from.
Unfortunately, a lot probably came from you.
Your Family, Your Influence
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Eden Treatment, a clinic for people with eating disorders, actually work with families to build a support network for children that are suffering from eating disorders, because kids are influenced by their parents and their peers.
Here are 5 ways you can make food and eating a positive and enjoyable experience for your children to help them stay on the right track when it comes to food and eating.
The most important thing you can do for your child is to be positive about food. Listen to the words you use “I don’t think you will like that” is quite a negative phrase, but “try this to see if you like it” is much more positive.
Have a Routine
Kids love routine, and having a routine will help to prevent the hangry! It’s a simple fact – if you’re hungry and irritable, eat something high in protein and fat (like a piece of cheese) and you’ll usually feel a lot better.
It’s the same for your kids, so schedule in snack time to keep them chilled.
Eating is a social activity and kids learn by imitation. Model good behavior by eating together at the table and with the TV off. Music might be nice, but keep it sedate and not too loud.
Make Them Try It (but don’t force them)
If you remember being forced to eat brussels sprouts as a kid even though you hated them you may want to save your child from this experience. Ask them to try new foods and don’t let them decide they don’t like it until they have at least tried it, then respect their decisions. Having the new food on the plate and talking about something else is usually more successful than constantly asking them to try it, too.
Be a Healthy Role Model
Healthy eating doesn’t really come naturally to most people – we’re evolved to want the most calorie dense food available, we just don’t burn it off anymore. Colorful candy and fatty greasy junk food are much more appealing to most of us but we know we must eat nutrition-rich food to stay healthy.
Your kids need to know this too, and the best way for them to learn is to watch you eat healthy food.