How to Talk to Your Child about Healthy Eating without Pressure

It’s tough as a parent to instill healthy eating values in your child. At school and around their friends they’re surrounded by mixed messages. Additionally, children tend to rebel if a message is pushed too heavily. Here’s how to talk to your child about healthy eating.

#1 Look for teachable moments – If you’re constantly drilling your child with why it’s important to eat healthy, they’re going to block you out. However, when you discuss healthy eating during key teachable moments, it can really have an impact.

For example, you’re at the store and another child’s face is covered with sticky goo. The child is misbehaving and having a real meltdown. You can quietly explain to your child that sometimes too much sugar makes a person not feel right. When young children feel like that they usually lose control of their emotions and can behave poorly.

Or if your child doesn’t eat a healthy breakfast and then comes home feeling poorly, you can explain that if they’d eaten better, they’d probably feel better. Then together, you can make a plan to eat a better breakfast the next day.

Children often listen when they have an example or experience to relate the conversation to. Waiting for those teaching moments can have a far greater impact than a lecture about healthy eating.

#2 Show, don’t tell – It’s important to be a good role model. If you preach about the dangers of sugar and then your children see you eat a bag of cookies, you’re not practicing what you preach. Instead, eat healthy yourself and explain to your children why you choose to eat healthy. Make sure it’s about health and not body image or weight. Children get enough pressure to look perfect without it coming from their parents.

#3 Media – There are positive media messages to be experienced. When someone your child respects or trusts is discussing health, share that message with your child. Perhaps a book on taking care of themselves is a good gift, or share appropriate movies with them. The movie “Super Size Me” is a good movie for middle aged children to watch.

Be sure, when talking about healthy eating to your children, that you leave room for fun. Children understand the benefits of fruits, vegetables and whole grain. They also know they like cookies, candy and snacks. Help guide them to make smart decisions by allowing the occasional treat. They’re more likely to grow into healthy adults if they’re allowed to enjoy food and appreciate its many benefits.

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