Modeling Nutrition: 8 Ways to Lead

Christie Caggiani, RD, LD/N

Research has shown that the more parents push their kids to eat, the more kids resist; and the more they try to stop their kids from eating or restrict certain foods, the more the kids seek them out.  So does this mean we as parents just let our kids run their own food show? Absolutely not. Remember that kids are growing beings – our job is to set the stage so that they can grow into the bodies they are designed to live in. That starts with proper nutrition – by providing regular meals and snacks – and by modeling regular, consistent, and balanced eating. Kids learn the most through their eyes – by watching those around them. So choose your words, behaviors and attitudes about nutrition carefully:

  1. Never criticize your body or anyone else’s.
  2. Don’t tell your child that they “shouldn’t” be hungry or they “need to stop” eating – encourage them to listen to their tummy.
  3. Don’t label food as good or bad.
  4. Don’t discuss diets, calories, weight, fat or weight loss in front or your children – or ever!
  5. Do eat with your kids – let them see you have a variety of foods – dessert and broccoli alike!
  6. Do keep food in your house. Make it varied, enjoyable, healthful and fun. Otherwise, your kids will be overwhelmed when they see so many options at their friends’ homes.
  7. Do include carbs – they’re the only nutrient that feeds our brain – and our kids (and us, too) need them at each meal. Yes, dinner included.
  8. Don’t skip meals – and eat the same meal as the rest of your family, unless there are extenuating circumstances.

If you have trouble modeling appropriate mealtime behavior or if you suspect your child has an eating disorder, call (561) 278-6033 to schedule an appointment with Christie.

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