Do’s and Don’ts – Raising Children with Healthy Attitudes to Food
Our lifelong afflictions with food may be firmly cemented during childhood, from the way our grown ups talk to us about food and their own relationships with food, to restricting certain foods and even TV shows. Eating disorders commonly appear in childhood and young adulthood, and the average age of onset is becoming lower and lower, with eating disorders even reported in children age 5 and 6.
Here are some tips to help you raise children with healthy attitudes to food. Remember, you are only human, so don’t beat yourself up should you do any of these without thinking! We can only try our best and learn from our own experiences with food.
Do: Celebrate our differences and teach children that people come in all shapes and sizes. Show them that we are all beautiful and unique.
Do: Be a role model yourself and try to bring your own eating habits under control.
Do: Encourage healthy eating for its health benefits and not for weight loss,
Do: Choose your words – telling your child to take a walk because they are overweight is very different than asking them to take a brisk walk with you.
Do: Provide your child with lots of affirmations about themselves that include their body, brain, personality, and talents.
Do: Encourage an active lifestyle. Although we think of children as being extremely active, the average age that exercise drops off is reportedly around age 7 – keep up those sports clubs and encourage active hobbies!
Do: Monitor what they watch on TV/YouTube and limit exposure to weight loss commercials.
Don’t: Obsess about your’s or your partner’s weight around your children.
Don’t: Obsess about your child’s weight, even if they are overweight.
Don’t: Use the word “fat,” whether it’s in relation to your child or to anyone else.
Don’t: Assume that boys don’t get eating disorders.
Don’t: Vilify any one type of food, including sweets. Using food restriction can cause children to lose their sense of hunger and fullness. They may overeat when those limited foods become available.
Don’t: Dissuade your child from wearing items of clothing.
Don’t: Congratulate your child if they lose weight.
Has the above helped? Or has anything personally resonated with you? Leave a comment below.