Parent or Food Police?

October 24, 2022

Ever feel like you’re the food police?  Your teenager wants to eat junk or your toddler refuses to eat broccoli. No parent enjoys having to constantly battle with their children about what to eat (or not eat), how much to eat, or when to eat. Here are a few tips to try to ease those situations and help everyone enjoy happy and healthful eating experience.

First off, arm your child with info. Teaching your children about proper nutrition in a way that doesn’t feel like a lecture is key. Make the info age appropriate and gear it towards something that they’re interested in. 

*Younger Kids: If you have a youngster whose mantra is, “I can do it myself!”, empower them with some food selection and prep. Take them to the grocery store and have them pick out something new in the produce aisle that the whole family can try. At home, give them the ingredients to make a healthy trail mix and let them go to town!  They’ll be far more inclined to eat something they had a part in choosing and making than a food that mom or dad is forcing them to eat. And, as your child is making the food or selecting a new fruit or veggie, take a moment to talk about why it will be yummy but also good for their body. Maybe it will make them run faster when they play tag or jump higher to touch the monkey bars!

*Teens: The teenage years can be tough enough without adding food battles to the mix.  Make healthy food choices readily available in your house so that busy teens can grab a nourishing snack on the go without a fuss or having to make something. If you have an athlete on your hands, make sure they understand how healthy food is essential to their being able to do well at their sport.  Most teenagers don’t engage in athletics if they aren’t trying to succeed at them, so playing into that desire to do well is key. If you want to swim faster or run longer, a steady diet of chips and candy isn’t going to do it.  When they understand that food is fuel, and healthy food is the key, the battles around food will lessen.  Teens are at the perfect age to really start understanding what different foods do for their bodies and how to make good choices.

If you find that you’ve done all of these things and you’re still battling at mealtimes, engage another voice in the conversation. Having a health coach or a dietitian talk to your whole family, and possibly reiterate what you’ve been saying, is a great idea. Sometimes, kids just need to hear things from a different voice other than their parents’. Educating our children about proper nutrition can be easy and fun and wonderful for the whole family.

If food battles rage on in your house, let’s take a step toward fixing that. If you’re looking for assistance, feel free to reach out to me or other health professionals. Just don’t give up!

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