How to Teach Kids about Healthy Eating

A positive relationship with food must be started at a young age and it should begin at home. Parents have a big role to play in teaching their children about nutrition, which can have a great impact on their kids’ body image and long-term relationship with food up until their adulthood.1

With child obesity and other eating disorders among the youth on the rise, it should be every parent’s responsibility to encourage their kids to embrace a healthy eating lifestyle– one that is focused on food as nourishment instead of a reward or punishment for weight loss or gain.1

Here are tips to help parents foster healthy eating habits among their children:

 

Model Healthy Eating Habits

Kids eat healthier when their parents do. Thus, exposing children to healthy food options and being a positive role model who views food as a source of joy and nourishment rather than an enemy, can go a long way in improving their body image and relationship with food.

If you are the type of parent who is trying to keep the weight off, keep in mind to avoid restricting foods during mealtimes and going on fad diets that can promote short-term and unhealthy weight loss. It is instead recommended for parents to plan healthy, balanced meals that include fruits and vegetables with whole grains and protein. 1

 

Eat Together as Family as Often as Possible

Having positive eating conversations with children can foster their lifelong healthy relationship with food. A parent can put this into practice by eating together as a family as often as possible and by involving kids in food shopping and cooking to expose them to fruits and vegetables at an early age.

Studies suggest that families who eat together at mealtimes tend to have higher-quality diets with more fruits and vegetables and less fast food and sugary beverages.1, 2

 

Don’t make the food conversation about weight

Weight-focused conversations with kids can manifest later as low self-esteem, unhealthy body image and disordered eating. While it is true that any discussion about eating vegetables or exercising can become harmful especially when related to losing weight, it is highly recommended to turn the conversation instead on positive outcomes. By eating the right food a person can become strong, healthy, and happy. 1, 3

 

Reference:

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/article/kids-healthy-eating-habits.html
  2. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2715616

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23797808/