How to Talk to Kids About Healthy Eating and Weightloss
Back in the day, I had a messed up relationship with food. One of the reasons I ended up losing 100 lbs was because I didn’t want my son Logan to eat like me.
I didn’t want him to ever struggle with his weight. It was so important to me to raise a healthy eater. And I knew to do that I had to work on me. In fact, so many members inside my No BS Weightloss membership use their children as a compelling reason why they want to lose weight. That’s what today’s podcast about sharing all the things that worked in our home to raise a healthy eater.
I teach you… To be AWARE of how you’re handling food at home, to be MINDFUL about how food is handled on your plate, How to MODEL behavior that works.
Teaching Your Child Better Habits
I struggled as a kid with being overweight. I did Weight Watchers with my mother multiple times. We'd have a last supper on Sunday, then start a diet on Monday. I associated eating all weekend with the way you relax and have a good time.
One of my first reasons to lose weight was because I didn’t want to teach Logan to be overweight. I wanted him to have a better life than I had. When his first birthday came around, he refused to eat the cake and wanted blueberries instead.I always offered him good, healthy food.
I frequently gets questions from parents asking about how to deal with kids that are putting on weight and how to teach them to eat well.
Don’t feel guilty if your child is overweight. Serving yourself up with regret and guilt is never productive. Kathy lost weight after her boys were grown and for a while was worried about how she should have done better for her boys. You have to get over being ashamed of how you showed up.
If you want to teach your child better habits, focus on that, not any guilt that you have over the past.
Start With Awareness Around Your Family's Food
There might be some subtle messages around food. If your family is in a rush and the only time you listen to each other is when you go out to eat, then the child may start associating eating out with the only time you listen to them.
To this day I still have eating patterns that I'm working to make better. As an adult, when I want to connect with Chris, I want to go out for beer and wine.
Instead, I've had to learn to tell Chris that I want to talk with him, to sit down and connect in a way that doesn’t involve alcohol.
This started when I was a kid. My mom was either rushing them places, working non-stop, or exhausted. The only time I got to laugh and talk with my mom was when they were eating. Moms and daughters tend to go get ice cream or some sort of treat when they’re trying to connect. There are other ways to connect with your child other than food.
I don't think there’s any harm in teaching kids about the four basics. It’s okay to make comments about how you know that you’re hungry. You don’t have to tell them to not eat when they’re not hungry, just teach them how to recognize when they’re hungry so they can figure it out on their own.
It’s okay to also let them know that hunger isn’t an emergency. If they wander into the kitchen hungry while you’re cooking, ask them “dinner will be ready in half an hour, do you think you can wait till then?” If they’re hungry, it’s okay to let them eat a little something.
Don’t try and put them on a diet without putting them on a diet. One thing not to say “you haven’t had enough to eat.” Let them lose interest in their food if that’s what happens. Eventually they’ll realize how much they need to eat to hold them over to the next meal, let them figure it out.
If you have a kid that mindlessly eats a lot, say “are you sure you’re hungry?” Not to tell them no, but to have them check in with themselves to make sure they’re actually hungry and not just bored.
I said that Logan overate the other night and he was shocked by it. I asked him if he ate passed his 2 and she had to explain what a 2 was and he said: “oh yeah, I’m way over that.” Then he said that he didn’t want to do that again. I let him figure out that it was uncomfortable.
Be subtle with what you say to your kids. Just be a great model for them.
If you change your eating patterns, the worst thing you can do is to say “I can’t have this food or that” or you being a jerk because you’re hangry. That sends a message to kids that if you’re going to be healthy, you have to be miserable. That is not good messaging.
Don’t be a martyr and say things like “I can’t go to the party because I’m on my diet.” Diet and healthy are often lumped into the same category. If you’re miserable on a diet, then happy eating junk, kids are going to associate junk food with happiness and healthy food with misery.
How Can Your Rewrite Your Family's Story Around Food?
The end goal is for your child to have a normal relationship with food. To not feel like they need to eat if they’re happy or sad. To eat when they’re actually hungry.
Teach them how to think about food in a way that will allow them to drive the bus later in life when they are on their own. Don’t rush them to eat. If they’re losing interest in food, they’re probably not hungry anymore.
We can teach our kids to have a respectful relationship with their bodies and their stomachs. Food should earn its place in your stomach. It needs to be worth it. It shouldn’t be something based on your emotions in the moment or something you hate to throw out.
If you have never fed your kids broccoli and you put it on their plate, don’t be surprised if they don’t touch it until they’ve seen it on their plate multiple times.
Don’t force them to try it, but it’s okay to ask if they’ve tried it. Tell them that you’d love it if they tried it, but if they don’t to be surprised it keeps showing up to meals. Then talk up the food and the yumminess of it. Explain to them that you should try two bites of something, not one. The tongue will react strongly to the first bite and then sort of adapt to the second bite.
There’s nothing wrong with putting cheese, ranch, or ketchup on things. You can slowly back off on how much you put on it, but it allows them to get used to it.
Kathy used to have everyone in her house plan one dinner for the week, which allowed everyone in the family to be involved in the plan for the week. This works really well for some families. They kept it posted so everyone always knew what they were having that week.
If your kid only likes one or two fruits or vegetables, allow them to just eat those. Keep offering new options, but let them eat what the ones they like until they’re ready to try something new.
If you’re throwing food away, you’re not wasting food. You get your money’s worth when your body is satisfied and you enjoyed what you ate.
I didn’t want my child to go through what I went through by being overweight. I didn’t want him to deal with the bullying. He isn’t going to have to sit around and unwind his food thoughts like his mother has had to do.
If your kids are grown, it’s not too late. You can change at any age. There have been several members whose grown children have started picking up on their good habits now that they’ve lost weight.
Want to learn more about my four simple, no bullsh*t tools for weightloss? Sign up for my free Losing for Life Kickstart Video Course. P.S. When I say simple, I mean f-ing simple!