All foods fit. Children are born with a natural preference for sweet foods and quickly learn to enjoy fatty foods. Though parents sometimes worry about it, these “fun” foods can be part of a healthy diet. In fact, studies show that overly restrictive food rules cause children to feel guilty and ashamed and lead to rebellious eating. Sounds like the last time you weren’t “allowed” to eat something “bad” on a diet, doesn’t it? Children and adults both eat healthier when they learn to enjoy less nutritious foods in moderation.
Be a picky eater. Kids won’t easily eat something they don’t like. Think of how much less food you’d eat if you didn’t settle for food that just tasted “so-so.”
You can learn to like new foods. It can take up to ten exposures of a new food for children to accept it. In our house, we have a two-bite rule. Everyone tastes two bites of everything; if they still don’t like it, they don’t have to eat it – but they have to try it again the next time we have it. Since that’s the rule, there are no battles at the table and the kids often surprise themselves by liking something they thought they wouldn’t.
Follow the leader. Face it. Kids watch and often imitate everything we do. If they observe us eating a variety of healthful foods and exercising regularly, then they’ll learn to take good care of their bodies. Likewise, if they hear adults making comments like “I am so huge” and “She looks fat in that,” then they’re more likely to suffer from poor self-esteem and a judgmental attitude.
There is more to a party than cake and ice cream! Invite a child to a party and they’ll want to know what they are going to get to do. Invite an adult and they’ll wonder what food will be served. You don’t have to avoid parties to manage your weight; just focus on the real purpose of social events – to be social!
Michelle May, M.D. is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Program that helps people learn to break free from mindless and emotional eating to live a more vibrant, healthy life. To buy the book, click here.