Tips to Help Your Children Build A Healthy Relationship with Food


As adults, we receive ideas from the people around us, social media, and society about what we “should” eat and how our bodies “should” look. These messages are also given to our children, through what they hear about their bodies and what they eat. These harmful messages about being thin and eating “healthy” may cause children to feel shame about their bodies or their eating habits.

It is important the adults in their lives try to interrupt the negative outcomes that may come from the harmful messaging around food. It is also important to make sure children get the right nutrients for their growing bodies.

Here are some ways you can help your children develop a healthy relationship with food, while also ensuring they are getting the nutrients they need:

  1. Avoid putting labels on food calling certain foods “junk food” or labeling them as “good” or “bad” can impact the way your children view certain foods, contributing guilt they may feel when eating them.
  2. Focus on your children’s health, instead of their weight weight and health can sometimes be related to one another but not always. Regardless of your childrens weight, it is your job to make sure they are getting the proper nutrients to be in good health.
  3. Give your kids a balanced diet – you should not restrict certain food groups, such as telling them they can’t have any sweets. They should eat a variety of foods, including carbs, sweets, as well as fruits and vegetables. For more information on balanced diets for kids visit Kids Eat in Color.
  4. Include your children in preparing meals – take your child grocery shopping to choose what they will eat and have them help you in the kitchen. This may encourage them to try a variety of foods.
  5. Teach your children to listen to their body – instead of asking your children to finish their plate, allow them to make eating decisions based on their body’s needs. Teaching them signals of hunger and thirst can help them make informed decisions around eating. Use this lesson from Health Powered Kids to help educate your kids about hunger.
  6. Focus on what their bodies can do, not how their body looks – highlight the great things their body can do, instead of their weight or looks. This can help them develop confidence and want to move their bodies more.

There are many ways you can help counteract negative messages children may hear about their body and eating habits, in order to help them develop a healthy relationship with food. Teaching them the importance of balance and creating fun, positive experiences surrounding food can help in this goal. For more tips in supporting your children in developing a positive relationship with food, see Houston Food Bank’s Guide.

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