Parents: Don’t Say the Word Diet

by Holley Nash, RDN, LD

When we diet or talk about dieting, we're sending confusing messages to our children.

As parents, we have so many jobs to do, and to do well! We are responsible for feeding, educating and disciplining our children. We are responsible for keeping them fit, keeping them active and keeping them safe. We are responsible for helping them to understand themselves and the world around them. What many of us do not realize is that most of what our children do, what they believe and what they become stems from our actions, not from our words.

You Are Your Child's Food Role Model

Parents are their children’s main role models. From the time your children are born, they are bathed in your beliefs and values and they learn from what you do. As children get older, they naturally rebel against a lot of what their parents represent to them, but the seed has been planted! You will find many of your good and not so good habits reflected in those of your child, including their eating habits and struggles with self-image.

What Can I Do To Raise a Healthy Eater?

Watch How You Talk About Food

A parent’s attitude toward food and their own weight will positively or negatively influence a child’s relationship with food. When children hear their parents classifying foods as “fattening” or “healthy,” or they hear talk about weight and the foods their parents are restricting in order to lose weight, children develop a black and white attitude about foods. This does not mean that you can cause your child to develop an eating disorder, but being a good food role model is vitally important for the development of your children’s food culture.

Avoid Talk of Diets and Forbidden Foods

Demonstrate to your children that no food should be feared and that foods of all kinds are important to help a growing body to thrive. Avoid making any foods “forbidden” and keep talk of dieting out of the home. Planned family meals give parents an opportunity to model good eating behaviors for their children – including eating a variety of foods and regularly trying new foods. Family meals also provide good structure and help children to understand the importance of sitting down and eating well.

Love and Enjoy Good Foods — Its Catching!

How to Be A Food Role Model for Your Child

Parents have a great opportunity to foster curiosity, enthusiasm and love of good food in their children by simply modeling these same attitudes on a regular basis. Provide balanced meals with plenty of variety and enjoy family mealtimes! Teaching your children to love food is perhaps one of the easiest jobs you have! If you need help and guidance to get started, please contact us. We specialize in family-centered nutrition and are here to support you.