3 keys to teaching your kids the power of food and avoiding bad eating patterns while they’re young
As mamas, we only want what is best for our kids. We strive each and every day to live and teach them what we can to make sure they are growing into healthy, happy humans. However, sometimes we don’t realize that the patterns and habits we’re teaching them, aren’t what is actually best for their bodies. Sometimes, our kids pick up our bad eating patterns and we don’t even realize that we are the ones teaching them those habits!
This does not make you a bad mom. I’m going to tell you that again because I really want it to soak in. You are not a bad mom!! You simply can’t teach them what you don’t know!
Are your kids stuck on the same three foods? Do your kids refuse to eat vegetables? Is trying new foods completely out of the question?
If you see these, or any other negative food choices, from your kids, I want you to look inside and see if you treat food in the same way?
Do you cook the same five meals for dinner every night?
Do you grab fast food for lunch every day?
Do you eat your veggies?
Most times kids pick up their negative eating habits from us. If you want to lead your family to healthier living, then you have to practice what you preach! Show your kids you’re making the changes and ask them to follow along! Mama, you are the ultimate teacher, use your power to teach your kids how to use food to bless their lives.
To help you teach your kids about healthy food choices, I’m sharing what I think are three of the most important keys to teaching our kids to prepare them to be healthier adults.
Teach your kids what food is used for.
First and foremost, food is fuel! Food is necessary for life! It gives us the energy to grow, play and learn. It’s important that you teach your kids that food is what gives our bodies life. You want to create a positive attitude around food so that they don’t develop negative associations with food.
On the flip side, I also want to talk about what food isn’t for. Food is not a coping mechanism. It is not a way to deal with your problems. Instead of using food as a tool for changing our moods, let’s teach our kids that when we eat foods that nourish our bodies, then we will feel happier and healthier all the time.
I strongly believe that the way to create a positive relationship with food is to teach our children what it does for our bodies. If you don’t talk about food, it creates a stigma around it and can lead to disordered eating and negative food relationships. Your kids should know that they can talk to you about food - just like anything else!
Teach your kids when carbs, proteins and fats are appropriate.
I teach my kids from a young age, what proteins, fats and carbs are and how they affect our bodies. Kids do not need to count their macros but they should still learn what macros are and when to eat them.
I’ve taught my kids that protein builds muscle, fat keeps us full and carbs give us energy. That way, when they are hungry and want a snack they can identify what they need based on their activities.
For example, if they’re about to head to soccer practice, then we look for a snack that will give them energy and keep them fueled for the entire practice. After practice, we’ll look for a high-protein snack that also has a good amount of carbs that will help repair, recover and build their muscles up after working them out.
When my kids are just sitting around watching TV and want a snack, we talk about what food is for and if they really need a snack. I like to do the broccoli test in these situations. I ask my kids if they could eat a bowl of broccoli when they want a snack and they aren’t exerting energy. If they could eat a bowl of broccoli, then they are actually hungry and aren’t just wanting to munch out of boredom. If they say no, but they want a sugary snack, I can usually tell that they aren’t actually hungry and we talk about what they are trying to accomplish by eating.
This thought process applies to everyday situations. If you’re doing a family movie night and want to do snacks, that is totally different! You can have fun with it! Pop some popcorn - a high-fiber snack - and enjoy that family time!
By going through these exercises with them and teaching them how to choose foods that will fuel their bodies, I’m giving them life-long tools to use when they leave the house!
Teach your kids about balance and moderation.
Finally, and I think this is the most important lesson to teach our kids: There are no bad foods only food accountability.
Each food group provides our bodies with nutrition or just makes us happy! I don’t think it’s safe or healthy to teach children to villainize food groups. It creates a bad relationship with food in general and can lead to disordered eating.
I don’t teach my kids that sugar is bad. Instead, I teach them that sugar has a place in our diets, and processed sugar isn’t an everyday thing. However, the sugar that comes from whole foods like fruits and veggies do have a place in our everyday diet. Balanced eating is all about learning when and how much to eat. In moderation, we can enjoy all of our favorite foods!
As we begin to show our kids how foods can be eaten in moderation and in a balanced diet, they will pick up on it and replicate that! Don’t forget, progress is better than perfection! There is no reason to beat yourself up if you don’t do this perfectly on your first try. Instead, celebrate any steps you make towards living a healthier life! It will encourage you to keep going and it will just be fun for your kids!
If you’re ready to create healthy eating habits within your family, then let’s connect! You can book a free discovery call with me and together we’ll create a plan to get you and your family to a healthy lifestyle!