All parents want to inculcate he althy eating habits in their children. However, the choice of words becomes important so as not to create the opposite effect!
All kinds of practices are implemented daily to ensure that children eat well, in the right quantity and at the desired time.
While these tactics often have the desired immediate effect, they can also unexpectedly influence children's food choices, preferences and ability to recognize hunger cues.
“No potato chips are bad for your he alth”
Your children are growing up in an environment where cheap, appetizing, low-calorie, low-nutrition foods are ubiquitous. In response to this "obesigenic" environment, some parents are tempted to completely ban certain "junk" foods from their children's diets.
These forbidden fruits then become much more interesting and attractive than the permitted foods… And when the forbidden foods are (finally!) available, children are very likely to consume excessive amounts of them, an excess that could lead to to obesity…
Furthermore, this talk encourages children to categorizefoods into "good" or "bad" foods and to prefer the latter. Their future eating habits are therefore likely to be greatly influenced by these distinctions.
If you don't eat your broccoli, you won't have dessert
Any parent would love to see their child devour their broccoli. But associating a food with a punishment is certainly not the best way to positively influence the child's perception of this food.
And the discourse held by the parent at the same time presents dessert as the ultimate reward and as a comfort food…
Similarly, the promise of food in exchange for a task (“You will get cookies when you clean your room”, for example) is more likely to increase the preference of the child for this reward food.
“Finish your plate”
Recognition of hunger cues plays an important role in maintaining a he althy weight. child learns to no longer trust the signals of satiety sent by his body.
Consequence: in situations where food is easily available, the child will tend to eat more, even if he is not hungry, a behavior that increases the risk of obesity.
“Don't eat too much cake, it makes you fat”
Certain comments linking food and body image can cause a child to have a conflicting relationship withcertain foods.
Cake is seen as forbidden, desired and attractive, but also guilt-inducing food. His drinking satisfies a part of him, but also makes him feel ashamed for deviating from what he perceives as a family norm.
Behaviors of overconsumption or food restrictions could then try to compensate for the loss of self-esteem…
To help your child develop good eating habits:
- set a good example by adopting he althy eating habits;
- advocate moderation rather than prohibition;
- at the table, offer a variety of quality foods, and let him decide how much;
- avoid categorizing foods as “good” or “bad;
- avoid using food to reward or punish your child;
- adopt a he althy and balanced attitude with regard to the body and the food by avoiding to transpose your own concerns on your children.