7 tips for the whole family

7 tips for the whole family

  • Healthy eating means consuming enough of the right nutrients for optimal health and well-being.
  • Experts say banning certain food groups, calling snacks “unhealthy,” and body shaming won’t help.
  • Instead, offer nutritious foods, encourage alertness, and get help with disordered eating habits.

Terms like “healthy” leave plenty of wiggle room as to what positive eating habits actually mean, especially for children. In this case, healthy eating means eating a nutritious, balanced diet, with enough from each food group to meet your daily nutritional needs.

However, healthy eating habits go beyond nutritional needs alone. You’ll also need to think about things like meal planning, meal times, your children’s emotional health, and of course the messages you’re sending about food and eating.

These seven tips can help foster a more positive relationship with food and eating — for your entire family.

1. Avoid Banning Whole Food Groups

Nutritional guidelines for children We recommend eating food from each food group for a balanced intake of macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients include protein, carbohydrates, and fats, while micronutrients include vitamins and minerals.

Many well-meaning parents try to limit “unhealthy” foods, such as crackers or chips. But it can be dangerous to label foods as healthy or unhealthy, good or bad, he says Lauren Mulheima psychologist in LA eating disorder treatment and author”When your teen has an eating disorder?. “

Making food taboo, or asking children to “earn” candy, positions these foods as higher value and more desirable food. As a result, these foods may interest your children more than other foods, than they might make them more like to me eating party Mulheim says this is food when they have access to it.

Furthermore, insisting that your children eat only so-called “healthy” foods can contribute to feelings of shame about food that may persist into adulthood and play a role in disordered eating behaviors, he says. Kristen Carlinoa registered dietitian and nutritionist in a private practice.

Instead, try:

  • Eat a variety of foods on your own: “Children tend to typical behaviors They see this in adults, so if they see parents or guardians eating balanced meals, they are more likely to do it themselves,” says Carlino.
  • included All foods in moderation: While Experts confirm Limit added sugars, saturated fats, and salt Most kids without allergies or dietary restrictions can still enjoy an occasional sweet treat or processed snack as part of a balanced diet.
  • save nutritious snacks Within reach of your children to eat between meals: Child-friendly options include fruit and fresh vegetable sticks with chickpeas and walnuts or seed butter, lean proteins like turkey and boiled eggs, and homemade smoothies made with whole fruits and vegetables.

2. Encourage regular meals with the family

Family meal times It offers a great way to connect with your children and encourage positive eating habits at the same time.

Eating in a group while having conversations can help your kids consume food at a slower pace – the opposite Chewing is distracted while watching TV.

can eat more slowly improve digestion And it makes you less likely to get an upset stomach afterward. It can also help you feel full after eating.

Setting regular meal times as part of your family routine can also:

  • Help you create a family routine, which can help you bond with your children
  • Encourage mindful eatingor listening to your body’s needs in the moment, which can enhance awareness of physical hunger signals while eating
  • Give children a chance to communicate and talk, which helps them feel supported in a different encounter life pressures
  • Remind the children that food is a necessary and enjoyable part of life

3. Involve children in meal planning and preparation

Many children will eat meals more easily when they have a say in what’s on the table.

Encouraging your children and teens to identify their unique tastes and helping to plan meals is also boosts the responsibility and independence while laying the early groundwork for self care. That’s because getting involved in mealtimes teaches kids the skills of planning and preparing balanced meals when they are young.

Carlino suggests asking the kids about things like:

  • What meals or foods do you prefer the most? What meal can we make with these foods?
  • Do you prefer the creativity of brainstorming meal ideas or getting a little messy with the prep work?
  • For younger children: What color of fruit or vegetables should go with this meal?
  • For Older Kids: What lunch or snacks will give you energy for your day?

4. Avoid diets

Restrictive diets and body shaming can be very harmful to your child – and these practices can lead to:

If your child’s doctor recommends helping him lose weight, you can safely support your child without shaming him by:

  • Provide nutritious snacks: Memorizes filling Foods on hand, such as Greek yogurt topped with plain fruit or hummus and whole-grain crackers. Memorizes Zero Calorie Foods Like potato chips or occasional snack cookies.
  • Encourage family practice: Join them in a regular physical activity like dancing and cycling yoga or running.
  • Storage of low-sugar drinks: Replace Drinks like soda or juice with water, herbal teaor unsweetened sparkling water to lower their sugar intake.

Asking open-ended questions instead of saying things like, “You can’t stay hungry” or “You shouldn’t eat that much” can also make a difference.

Instead, you might try:

  • “I’ve noticed that you look hungrier than usual. Was today a busy day?”
  • “How about taking a short break to let your food settle before getting more?”

“Using non-judgmental questions to understand why a child is eating a certain way can give you information faster without putting them on the defensive,” says Carlino.

5. Encouraging body neutrality to expose the body

reach to 94% of teenage girls And 64% of teens experienced physical shame. This shame can persist into adulthood, like One in eight adults Those surveyed had suicidal thoughts because of their body image.

expose the body It may include:

  • Criticize your child’s appearance by comparing him to someone else, such as saying that he is much heavier than his siblings or friends.
  • Direct defamation of your child’s appearance, such as telling him that he is too old to wear a tank, shorts, or summer dress.
  • Talking about weight gain in negative ways, such as referring to a celebrity or family friend having gained “significant” weight.

Instead, consider promoting a body-neutral mindset. body neutralitythat encourages people to focus on what their body can accomplish rather than what its shape and size can help people Experiencing their bodies in a holistic way that is less focused on appearance.

You can encourage body neutrality by:

  • An encouraging comparison: For example, if they are on social media and you notice that they are comparing their bodies to influencers, suggest muting accounts that make them feel insecure.
  • Reading about body neutrality together: These are podcasts and books can start.
  • Using the language of encouragement and appreciation: “Avoid negative self-talk about your body or other bodies around children. They hear more than you think,” says Mulheim. On the other hand, talking positively about your child — and yourself — can promote acceptance.
  • vigilance attempt: Encourage him for up to 10 minutes Full concentration of the mind Every day to promote a healthy connection between mind and body. If you are new to Mindfulness exercisesIt may be helpful to start with just one to five minutes at a time.

6. Pay attention to the signs of emotional eating

If your child seems particularly interested in food when bored or sad, he may be struggling emotional eating.

“Calm down with food is only a problem if it’s the only way your child can deal with boredom or sadness. If that’s the case, you can teach him other ways to cope,” Mulheim says.

Helping children and teens understand emotional eating The stimuli can help them develop alternative skills. You can start by asking them how they feel when you notice emotional eating, and really listen to their answer before sharing your favorite coping skills. Just listening and checking their distress can make a difference in their mood.

Alternative activities that might be suggested may include:

  • Stimulation game: Ask them if they’d like to play a game or take a walk together when they say “I’m bored” and start looking for lockers.
  • Self-soothing skills: Trade skills such as Playing sports or Meditation You can try when big feelings arise in the future. You can make this a game where the person who comes up with the most coping skills wins a prize, like picking the next movie for a family movie night.
  • Make a list of things to do together: Put a list of fun activities on the fridge to try when you’re bored or frustrated. Encourage all family members to share their thoughts.

7. Find more support

If you are concerned about your kid’s eating habits, a Pediatrician They can help you rule out potential health concerns and refer you to a specialist, if necessary.

For example, your child may benefit from food allergy test or talk to a Psychotherapist Or a dietitian who can help them explore any thoughts and feelings about food without shame.

It is best to contact a doctor or therapist if:

Informed takeaway

Food nourishes your mind and body and provides the energy you need every day. In short, eating is an essential part of everyday life, not something that should inspire you to shame.

But the eating habits and attitudes toward food your children learn in childhood can affect their food choices, not to mention their general health and mental well-being, right into adulthood.

It’s always better to be curious, rather than critical, if you have concerns about your child’s eating habits. Asking your children thoughtful questions, and bringing in a professional such as a therapist or dietitian, can help them find pleasure in eating and avoid unwanted or negative feelings about food.

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