(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my contributed posts in my disclaimer)
When kids are young, they soak up information so easily, because their brains are like sponges. They learn from us in every possible way, not just from the things we tell them but from the things we show them with our actions. A lot of the time, we don’t even realize that we’re teaching them anything at all!
Food is something they need to survive, but also something they can develop an unhealthy relationship with if you’re not careful. These patterns learned as children can be seriously hard to break out of. So, what lessons should you teach your kids about food:
There Is No Good Or Bad
While some food is definitely better in terms of health benefits, calling foods good and bad in front of your kids can definitely help them to develop a negative view of food early on. This is why it isn’t recommended you talk about diets in front of them, what you can and can’t eat, how much you don’t like your body or anything that can make them pick up the same views. Because believe it, they will.
Balance Is Key
Balance is key to living a happy, healthy life. Eating vegetables, fruits, and healthy foods the majority of the time is great, but they should be allowed a treat every so often. For example, 80% of their daily food intake should be made up of healthy choices, and the other 20% they can be allowed a treat. The more they eat healthy foods, the more they’ll want to eat them (the same goes with junk food, so be smart). Getting them used to eating healthy foods while they are young can take time, but it’s worth it. It can take kids multiple times trying a certain new food to start to like it, so don’t give up.
Food Shouldn’t Be Used As A Crutch
A lot of the time, we unknowingly teach kids that food can be a crutch when we’re feeling low. If you give them food when they are bored, to keep them quiet, or for any reason other than they are hungry or they haven’t eaten for a while, then you need to stop this. They shouldn’t be in the fridge just because they have nothing to do. They need to get used to being uncomfortable with having free time and use it to do something creative or find ways to be active and engaged.
The Reasons We Should Eat Lots Of Vegetables And Nutritious Foods
Actually teaching your kids about why things are good for us can make them more aware of what they are eating. Make sure you are factual about this – for example, saying vegetables can help us to grow up big and strong isn’t always the best approach. Tell them which vegetables have what vitamins in them, and how they can help us to be healthier and happier.
My four-year-old knows that carrots help his eyes, and that milk makes his bones strong. You don’t have to go too in depth with it!
When it comes to foods that aren’t so healthy, if they are old enough, it can be better to say that they don’t have as much nutritional value as other foods. If you start saying things like ‘cake makes you fat’ then they are going to start developing negative views. As they get into the teenage years (16+) you might start talking about nutrition and weight, but it can be extremely damaging on their self-worth if you insert those conversations too early.
Learning from an early age how to make healthy choices, and what foods have more nutritional value than others can definitely help out in the long run. I wish I had learned these things as a child, instead of being a mother before I understood how my diet truly affected my body!