One question that often comes up with clients is how to help their children to continue to eat in a natural, intuitive way in spite of the food messaging that abounds in our culture. This is certainly difficult, and it’s important to be realistic that we cannot completely prevent our children from being exposed to the food messaging we are surrounded by in our day to day life.
However, the good news is that children are natural born intuitive eaters! The main task for us as parents is to continue to foster this natural ability. We do this in several ways. Firstly, we can do this by not imposing food rules and food morality on our children. If we can avoid labeling foods as good or bad, and allow our children to make they own decisions around what and how much they are eating, as well as not put a focus on body appearance, we are going a long way in nurture our children’s innate ability to eat mindfully.
That said, I think it’s important to acknowledge that this is easier said than done! When your child has turned down all the veggies they’ve been offered for weeks on end, or is going through a phase where all they seem to want to eat is ice cream for example, it is certainly natural to be concerned. This brings up some big fears for us as parents such as, “is my kid going to get sick, become unhealthy, be overweight?” (and the often unspoken worry that they will be stigmatized), among others. I think the most critical task in raising children that eat mindfully is actually addressing our own food and body image issues. When we don’t, it is incredibly easy to pass these beliefs on, often even somewhat unconsciously. In fact for many people, children are actually the motivator for finally addressing some of their long held struggles with food and body image.
Questions about children and eating intuitively or anything else food/body image related? Feel free to get in touch!