Tips to help children have a healthy relationship with food
With children developing disordered eating younger and younger, it is becoming increasingly important to help young people view food in a healthy way.
While there are many factors at play when it comes to eating disorders (including genetics, character traits and peer pressure), parents can often help – or worsen – the situation.
Promoting healthy eating and positive body image from a young age can be invaluable. Children are impressionable and tend to pick up on the way their parents relate to their bodies and food. If parents are furiously counting calories and worrying about the way they look, the impact can be harmful.
To ensure your children are enjoying a healthy diet and a healthy relationship with food, try the following suggestions:
- Stop weighing yourself – Throw out the scales if necessary. If your child sees you weighing yourself constantly, he/she will begin to wonder why it is so important.
- Limit access to unrealistic imagery – If possible, look to restrict the amount of access your child has to material that promotes unrealistic ideals of beauty.
- Talk about nutritional value, not calorie content – Rather than discussing how food will impact weight, concentrate on the way food nourishes the body.
- Encourage exercise for health, not vanity – Rather than exercising to look thinner, encourage exercise as a way to keep healthy.
- Don’t criticise the way you look – Complaining about your body or weight can rub off on children and they may start to view their own bodies in the same way.
Taking steps such as these can help to reduce the risk of children developing eating disorders in the future by instilling a positive and healthy relationship with food early on.
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