We all want our kids to grow up healthy and strong, and have a positive relationship with food. But with all the mixed messaging out there about food, health, and wellness, it can be hard to make sure your kids are hearing what you want them to hear. Raising kids who have a good relationship with food will benefit them throughout their life.
Avoid Negative Messages Yourself
If you do not want your kids to hear and absorb negative messages about food, you should avoid these messages yourself as well. Kids observe what kinds of media and messaging you are reading and watching on television, as well as conversations you have. Colleen Christensen Nutrition recommends you learn strategies to steer the topic of conversation away from negative talk about food. If you are reading, watching, or hearing from sources that promote negative messages about food, you may repeat what you have heard from these sources to your kids.
Focus on Health and Not Weight
Another way to avoid your kids absorbing negative messaging about food is to focus on them being and feeling healthy, not on how much your kids weigh. For example, share how milk provides calcium and Vitamin D to help grow strong bones. According to Stellar Kids, children can benefit from drinking about 1 or 2 cups of milk a day. Talk about how eating can make you feel better and help keep your body strong. By teaching your kids that what you eat is about your health, they will be less likely to associate food only with weight.
Encourage Your Kids to Try New Foods
Encourage your kids to try new foods that they may not have had before. Child Savers says to not force them, but encourage them by explaining the taste and flavors. A great way to encourage kids to try new foods is by bringing them into the kitchen to help you prepare a meal. Getting them involved in the process will entice them to try what they helped create. Do not use negative messages about certain types of food around your kids or deem certain foods as ‘bad.’ Instead, talk about the benefits of different foods including the vitamins and minerals they include. Teach your child that all foods are good in moderation.
Positive messages about food should be implemented with your kids early on, as their food habits and attitudes can form at a young age. Teach your kids that different kinds of foods have different benefits and avoid labeling foods as “good” or “bad.” Be open to communicating with your kids so they feel comfortable talking to you about food and their health.
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