The relationship that our children have with food is largely influenced by us and starts right off the bat when they are tiny. How we relate to food and the rules that we impose surrounding food when it comes to our children can either do a great deal of damage or a great deal of good. The following are a few ways to help your child form the healthiest relationship possible with food.
Do Not Use Food as a Reward
This first rule can be difficult, as many parents were raised with a food reward system themselves and are used to getting a treat in the form of food for good behavior. Move away from this system by using other things as rewards or changing the discipline/reward system entirely. When food is a reward, kids will tend to over eat those foods that were given as a reward when they have a chance.
Make Mealtimes a Bonding Experience
When the whole family eats together frequently, mealtimes become more than a time to intake physical nourishment, they become a time for bonding and sharing with the family. This can inspire a positive vibe surrounding food that may help to prevent stigmas and any kind of guilt surrounding food that may be perpetuated by peers or the media.
Allow Yourself to Enjoy Food
Allowing yourself to enjoy food and be excited about different dishes will inspire excitement in your children. Eating is an emotional experience, so make sure those emotions are kept positive. Children will be more likely to try new and healthy foods when there is excitement surrounding trying different foods of all types.
Reflect on Your Own Relationship with Food
When we unconsciously make statements like “I’m being bad, eating French fries,” or other statements that condemn our weight or introduce our own insecurities surrounding food, we pass these insecurities onto our children. Make a conscious effort to think of food and talk about food as a good thing that helps us to fuel our bodies. Demonizing foods is not a healthy thing, so make sure to think before you speak about food in front of your children.