By CJ’s Fitbumps
I recently picked my son up from nursery and one of the lessons of the day was to identify foods that were healthy and foods that were unhealthy.
My son said he liked pizza when asked whether or not it was healthy and also he liked chocolate! This made the staff laugh as they said he should know due to the work I do as a health professional and this got me thinking. I believe food is food – some food is better for you and should be eaten daily and other foods to be enjoyed occasionally.
Forget good food/bad food
I have not really labelled food with my son as good or bad as I want him to have a healthy relationship with food. Obviously many foods are avoided yet as they are not put in front of him at the dinner table he is unaware of them.
Through the work I do, I have seen a rise in the number of children being critical of their body as well as being food conscious and the most alarming trend is children are becoming more body conscious at an earlier age and eating disorders are becoming more common, especially in boys.
I realised the issue that youngsters face when my nephew was wearing his mum’s Fitbit and stressing about his lack of steps – I just said to him, you are 11 years old, let’s get outside and move!
So how do we create a healthy relationship between kids and food without creating anxiety?
Remove guilt from food
Avoid making kids feel guilty about consuming particular foods by ‘labelling’ the choices as either “everyday foods” or “sometimes foods”. “Everyday foods” are those with high nutritional values such as lean meats, high fibre cereals and fresh fruit and vegetables. The “sometimes foods” are those high in sugar and fat such as biscuits, cakes, chocolate and crisps.
Lead by example
Do as I say AND as I do. If you expect your children to follow a balanced food plan, then you have to show them how. Stocking the kitchen with biscuits, chips and chocolate that you eat regularly does not send the right message and if you don’t want them to eat something then you shouldn’t either. Children are visual learners, so if they see their parents engaging in regular exercise and eating healthily this can have a significant influence over their health habits.
Why not dedicate time where the family is active together? By introducing kids to fun activities or taking your dog for a walk they are more likely to want to move more. Also, have the kids help prepare dinner once a week so they can see that healthy eating is fun!
Keep conversation lines open
One of the best ways to ensure your children are honest about what they putting into their bodies, and feel free to ask questions is to facilitate opportunities for open conversations at home.
The more time you spend with kids when they are younger, the more likely you are to cement relationships which will ultimately lead to more open and complex conversations when the kids get older.
Author CJ’s Fitbumps – CJ is a pre and postnatal holistic health coach, group exercise instructor, personal trainer, nutrition expert and author of The Winning Physique. She provides specialist pre and postnatal fitness classes and coaching at Riverside Ice and Leisure as well as offers one to one personalised health coaching programs lifestyle consultations and personal training. Find me at www.cjsfitbumps.com, email me via firstname.lastname@example.org or call me 07557683770.