How to Help Kids Develop a Healthy Relationship with Food

My friend Shari sent me an article this week that I feel compelled to share. Even if you don’t have children it’s a good read. We all share different relationships with food but the one constant is that we all NEED it. With the many different diets out there, the increase in obesity rate, body image issues, and all the other influences that surround us (at all ages) how can we help our kids develop a healthy relationship with food. Check out this article from CNN that was published last week. It has some helpful parenting tips and reminders. With the holiday season upon us, it might help us be a little better prepared for how to deal with our kids and all the sweets! I’m guilty of many things this article recommends not doing which is why I wanted to share it. Parenting is not easy and I’m so, so thankful for tips that can help our family grow strong both physically and mentally!

Here are just a few of my thoughts after reading the article.
  1.  I do find myself offering a “treat” if my kids do X, Y, or Z.  I know this is not the best strategy to get my kids to do something but there are those times that it’s all I’ve got. I’m going to work on this one! Maybe an out of the blue trip for ice-cream is better than an expected sweet reward!  BTW: if you're ever in Portland and looking for great ice cream, check out The Scoop in NW Portland. The owners are awesome, the ice cream is made with REAL ingredients, and the taste is outstanding!
  2. Let your kids make choices?  I’ve become much better at this over the years but welcome the reminder. This article recommends letting your kids be in control a little more. You can offer two healthy choices so it's a win-win! They get to choose and they are getting their veggies.
  3. Let your kids fill their plate. I can’t remember what my appetite was at age 5 but I do know it was very different than it is now. If we let our kids be in charge, they will likely learn to listen to their body without feeling pressured.  If they don’t eat enough maybe it's a lesson!
  4. I personally LOVE the idea of letting your kids shop with you at the grocery store. I have a personal trick: let your kids pick a snack for the week; they will be so excited! My trick: start in the produce section!  My 5 year old gets so excited when she sees all the fresh fruit and gets to choose one.  We have come home with mangoes, dragon fruit (that was an expensive one), pears, berries, etc.. Our children may actually prefer this over chips and crackers.
  5. Cooking together!  My favorite piece of equipment when my girls were little was the Learning Tower!  If you have a child under the age of 4, I highly recommend it! A butter knife, a cutting board and some soft veggies is all you need (mushrooms and snap peas work great)! More often than not, your kid will eat healthier if they are part of the process.

Cheers to parenting!