How to ensure your kids love to eat
Encouraging kids to develop a healthy relationship to food
It’s dinner time. Yay or nay?
Raising kids can be challenging, and raising kids who love to eat can be even more challenging!
Do you worry your child eats too much or not enough?
Do you have to cook your toddler a different meal every night?
Do you struggle with your kids not eating anything despite you insisting?
Do you wish your kid grow learning how to love their body?
Here are 5 ideas to raise healthy happy eaters.
1. Serve the healthy plate as often as possible
The balanced plate is a tool you can use to guide your family towards healthy eating.
The balanced plate is composed of 3 parts and 2 sides:
- 1/3 of the plate = Protein foods: tofu, legumes, fish, nuts, meat, tempeh, cheese, hummus, nut butter
- 1/3 of the plate = Veggies: you know them, aim for all colours
- 1/3 of the plate = Whole Grains: bread, pasta, rice, barley, quinoa, bulgur, buckwheat, oats, quinoa, spelled (or potatoes)
- Side 1 = Fruits : great as a snack or dessert, aim for all colours
- Side 2 = Glass of water (or milk)
Serve a balanced plate, most meals and on most days.
We hear you: “What about that food I looooove that doesn’t fit on the balanced plate?”
Life is life, and it is more than okay to enjoy all the food you love!
Healthy eating is about what your family eats globally. The balanced plate as your foundation, and integrate these pleasure food sometimes to complete your meal as you celebrate with friends, share a tradition with family or simply because!
Subscribe to get your balanced plate infographic and pin it on the fridge
We’ve got lots of ideas so your family can elaborate different combinations!
2. Don’t comment on people’s weight. Ever.
Don’t comment on your weight, on your kid’s weight, on the neighbor’s weight…Commenting on people’s weight is always wrong. Why? Because it puts pressure people to try to control something they in fact, cannot control.
It also perpetuates a social norm of beauty that is unrealistic, and essentially feeds an industry that maintains and grows on women insecurities. Even when it might seems like a positive comment.
It is neither useful nor helpful. It is stigmatising, and it denies the essence and personality of people by focusing on appearances instead of on “being”.
Lead by example and refrain from commenting on people’s weight
3. Let kids decide at the dinner table
Share responsibilities between the parents and the children when it’s meal time. We call it the golden rule.
- What : a healthy meal based on the healthy plate. The same meal for everyone.
- When : sticking to the family meal schedule.
- How : sharing prep tasks and good times in a light atmosphere!
- Where : at the dinner table, without distraction, while sharing pleasant discussions.
- If : if they want to eat, if they eat this or/and that. Never pressure them to eat anything.
- How much: nothing, a little bit, or a lot.
- If they want dessert: No matter their decision about the 2 first points.
Sharing responsibilities will not only rally everybody around the dinner table, but it will also give you a break!
Never force your kids to eat anything. Don’t comment on their food intake either. Don’t bribe them to eat so they can have dessert or go play. Once the meal is on the table, your job is done. Sit back and let go.
You provide the occasion for them to eat a healthy and pleasant meal. The offer is theirs to take…or not.
4. Don’t make associations between food and body weight
Because it is not as simple as that. Your kids should be encouraged to eat well because it is a pleasurable way to take care of our bodies, not to control their weight. The former emerges from self love, the latter from self inadequacy. Controlling our food intake in order to control our weight will suck the fun out of eating.
The link between food intake and weight is far from simple or direct. Trying to control our weight by controlling our food intake will most likely make us do stuff that are risky for our health and we don’t want that.
Instead, show your kids that food has a lot to offer! It can be associated with pleasure and good times. Make it a goal to share meals and cooking with them, and challenge them to discover new food, recipes or international cuisine. All this can happen regardless of our body weight and body size. That’s the beauty of it!
There is no way that making the association between food and body weight will have positive results.
5. Show them that our bodies can accomplish great things
Praise your kids efforts to accomplish their goals, whether it be in school, in sports or in arts.
Help them name their good qualities: funny, loyal, smart, creative, strong, open-minded, etc… and notice all the good they spread around them.
Make them challenge their five senses: tasting chocolate, smelling flowers, touching a cat, cuddling her mom, seeing a snowflake, laughing with friends, rocking a baby, holding the hand of someone who needs it, listening to her friends’ secrets, etc.
These actions and discussions will make them appreciate all their bodies can accomplish! It doesn’t matter how much they weigh, the size or shape they have and what they look like. It doesn’t matter how you, as parent, weigh or look either.
Our weight doesn’t define us, nor the things we can accomplish.
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