I wanted to talk today about something we all care deeply about – our children's relationship with food. As much as we want them to grow up healthy and strong, we also want them to have a positive and healthy experience with eating.
That's why I want to introduce you to the concept of Intuitive Eating. It might sound complicated and even a little vague, but trust me, it's all about bringing simplicity and ease to your child's food journey.
What's This Intuitive Eating Thing, Anyway?
Picture this – intuitive eating is like a food adventure where your child learns to listen to their body and eat according to its cues. You know when they're hungry, and you know when they're full – that's the intuition we're talking about.
By trusting their appetites, kids naturally learn to eat when they need fuel and stop when they're satisfied. It's like their body has this magical GPS for food!
Now, I'm not just making this stuff up – there's quite a lot of nutritional and behavioural science to back it up too! Studies have shown that kids who practice intuitive eating are more likely to have a positive body image and develop healthier eating habits as they grow up. Plus, it reduces the risk of them developing eating disorders later in life. So, it's definitely a win-win for everyone!
The Trouble with Food Restrictions
Let's get real for a moment. Sometimes, as parents, we worry about our kids' eating habits – especially if they're picky eaters or seem obsessed with certain foods. And that's when we might resort to the dreaded "food restrictions" or what we call the "Food Police." But hold up! Evelyn Tribole, the genius behind intuitive eating, warns us that this can backfire big time!
Restrictive feeding practices can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. When we forbid certain foods, kids become super focused on them.
It's like saying, "Don't think about pink elephants!" What's the first thing that pops into your mind? Yep, pink elephants. The same goes for food – the more we say no, the more they want it.
This can ultimately lead to behaviours that involve hiding, sneaking and feeling shame about food. Kids need to know that the foods they want are available and not deemed as 'bad' or 'good' in order to be able to moderate their intake by listening to their hunger and fullness cues.
The Sweet Balance of Intuitive Eating
So, you might be wondering, "Should I just let my kid indulge in sweets all day?"
Not quite! Remember, it's all about balance and moderation. When we include sweets and treats as part of a balanced diet, we teach our kids that it's okay to enjoy these goodies without feeling guilty and they can trust they will have another opportunity to eat them again.
Now, I'm not suggesting we turn our kids into sugar monsters, but we can show them how to enjoy treats mindfully.
Studies have shown that when kids don't feel restricted around sweets, they actually consume them in smaller amounts. Who knew?
Be a Food Role Model
Here's a not-so-secret – kids are like little sponges. They soak up everything they see and hear, especially from us parents! So, it's time to lead by example.
Embrace intuitive eating yourself and show them what a healthy attitude towards food looks like.
Evelyn Tribole said it best, "If you want to raise a child who has a healthy relationship with food, it starts with how you relate to food yourself."
Building a Supportive Food Environment
So, we want to create a safe and supportive space for our little food explorers. How can we do that?
Make mealtime fun and relaxed – no pressure, no forcing. Just good vibes and great food.
Involve your kids in meal planning and cooking. It's like a mini cooking show, and they're the stars!
Encourage open conversations about food and nutrition. Answer their questions and let them express their feelings about food.
Remember, it's not about being the food police – it's about being their food BFF! Encourage them to decide when they are hungry and full and show that you trust their judgement.
By embracing the intuitive eating approach, we can give our kids the gift of a positive food relationship. Let's ditch the food restrictions and trust our little ones, and big ones too, to eat intuitively. It's a journey of discovery and joy that will stay with them for a lifetime.
"Let's lead the way for our kids. Together, we can create a world where food is celebrated, not feared." - Evelyn Tribole
Happy eating, everyone!
Curious about intuitive eating and nutrition for your family?
If you’re looking for support with your family’s health goals regarding these intuitive eating principles or mental health, ADHD and autism, feel free to book in a FREE discovery call so we can chat to see if Holistic Nutrition is a good fit for your family!