All across America, kids are struggling with weight problems. In response to these issues, parents often restrict their kids’ eating, but research shows that this only makes the problem worse. How do you help your kids to form a healthy relationship with food? It’s not always so clear cut, so here are a few tips.
Kids and people in general gravitate to whatever they feel deprived of. So telling your kids that they can’t have sweets or certain foods is apt to make them want it more. Worse, when they are able to get some of the restricted food, they are likely to overindulge. If you restrict all foods, it is apt to push kids to gorge every single time they eat.
Talk About Frequency Instead of Good versus Bad Food
When you call food “bad,” you put a stigma on that food, so that you child is likely to associate negative emotions with it. This is not a healthy relationship, as children will begin to feel guilty or bad about themselves if they enjoy the food.
Telling them instead that we eat more of certain foods because they have important “super nutrients” that give us strength, health, and other needed qualities is more advisable. Instead of saying that food is bad, say that we eat it less often because it has less of those important things that we need.
Make Healthy Foods Readily Available
When fresh, ripe fruit is easy to grab and eat, kids will typically opt for that when they are hungry. Making easy-to-eat veggies like carrot sticks, celery, and sugar peas available will encourage them to eat those foods when hungry, as well.
Serve Dessert with Dinner
It may seem like a radical idea, but putting a cookie or child sized portion of sweets on the dinner plate has shown to have a positive impact. Kids will usually begin by eating the dessert first, but after a few times, kids will start to savor the dessert or eat it as a matter of course with the meal. This way, the sweets begin to lose their status as a reward and just come to be seen as food like any other.