If you’ve ever struggled with your relationship with food (which most of us have!), then you probably want to do everything in your power to make sure your kids don’t end up feeling the same way. These are the tips I share with parents as a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, to help their families foster a healthy relationship with food, as well as the methods I use for my own kids.
Keep Food Neutral
Keeping food neutral comes down to not attaching morality to foods. Not thinking about food in a way that ___ food is “good” or “bad” – it’s just food. So candy isn’t “full of sugar!” it’s just candy.
Don’t Obsess about Nutrition
I say this as someone with a degree in Nutrition. I don’t think an obsession with Nutrition is helpful in anyone actually eating a more nutritious diet. I actually believe it has the opposite effect. Note, this doesn’t mean don’t serve nutritious food, but don’t obsess and stress.
Serve and Provide All Types of Food
Show your kids that all foods serve a purpose. Some foods have a lot of nutritional benefits, and sometimes foods have a lot of enjoyment benefits – and sometimes they overlap and have both! So serve both carrots – and cake!
Serve Dessert with Dinner
This always gets people worked up on the internet, but it is a great way to help keep foods a little more equal. If they have to eat broccoli before they eat dessert, we’re inadvertently telling them that the broccoli is so bad that they deserve a reward (dessert) for eating it AND giving dessert more power than I think it deserves, which makes it that much more appealing.
Trust Your Kids to Trust their Body
We’re all born with the skill of intuitive eating and listening to our bodies, seen when babies push away bottles or breast when they are done eating, but unfortunately, a lot of us lose this skill and turn to external cues instead of internal cues. Help your kids keep this valuable skill by trusting them to trust your body.
Heal Your Own Relationship with Food
Perhaps the most important way you can help your kids have a healthy relationship with food is by first healing your own relationship with food. Modeling this is so incredibly helpful.