Teach your kids about nour­ish­ment

Upper Hutt Leader - - MOTORING -

Q: I want to make suremy kids are raised to have a healthy re­la­tion­ship with food. Do you have any tips or ad­vice please? – Kim­ber­ley

I want to pref­ace this by say­ing the last thing I ever want to do is cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion where any­one ex­pe­ri­ences more guilt – good­ness knows moth­ers ex­pe­ri­ence enough! So please take the fol­low­ing in­for­ma­tion in the way that it is in­tended: I sim­ply want to help you bring more aware­ness to how you com­mu­ni­cate about food, nu­tri­tion and your body weight, par­tic­u­larly around chil­dren.

If we want our chil­dren – es­pe­cially daugh­ters, as the pres­sure to be ‘‘slim’’ and ‘‘pretty’’ is far greater on girls and women – to have a pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship with food and their bod­ies, then be­com­ing aware of our own re­la­tion­ship with food, nu­tri­tion and weight is a crit­i­cal part of this. Sadly, we are kid­ding our­selves if we don’t think chil­dren, par­tic­u­larly girls, are ab­sorb­ing what they see us do and

A: Ask Dr Libby

Email your ques­tions for Dr Libby to ask.dr­libby@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz. Please note, only a se­lec­tion of ques­tions can be an­swered. what they hear us say when it comes to food and our bod­ies.

I can’t en­cour­age you enough to re­flect on your own ex­pe­ri­ence of body shape and size. Do you ever dis­cuss di­et­ing, weight loss, be­ing skinny or slim, bikini bod­ies, fit­ting into a pair of jeans and so on in front of your chil­dren, or leave mag­a­zines ly­ing around that dis­cuss these is­sues? How of­ten do you weigh your­self and feel dis­ap­pointed by the num­ber that ap­pears on the scale? Does the num­ber on the scales in­flu­ence your be­hav­iour – such as the way you treat your­self and in­ter­act with others, the foods you choose or the way you move your body? Do you re­fer to cer­tain foods as good, bad, clean, healthy or un­healthy?

Our lan­guage around food mat­ters – it is more ac­cu­rate and help­ful to de­scribe foods as nu­tri­tious or nour­ish­ing (or not), and to base our food choices on nour­ish­ment. I’m not say­ing you have to watch ev­ery sin­gle word that comes out of your mouth, but I do want to bring aware­ness to the fact that your chil­dren will tend to model their re­la­tion­ship with food, nu­tri­tion and weight around your be­liefs and be­hav­iours.

Fo­cus on health and nour­ish­ment, not on calo­ries, fats or carbs. Talk about foods with re­gard to how they nour­ish your body rather than their ef­fects on body shape and size. For ex­am­ple, ex­plain­ing how nu­tri­tious foods such as veg­eta­bles are go­ing to help give your body the nu­tri­ents it needs for clear think­ing, clear skin and, of course, en­ergy. Or sports per­for­mance. Re­late nour­ish­ing food choices to what your chil­dren value.

Make it your mis­sion to help your chil­dren un­der­stand that food is nour­ish­ment and fuel, it is nei­ther good nor bad. Us­ing food as a re­ward or of­fer­ing it as com­fort sets up a false no­tion that it can soothe strong emo­tions, so please do your ab­so­lute best to avoid this.

Help­ing your chil­dren to un­der­stand that it’s what we do ev­ery day that im­pacts our health not what we do some­times, can also help to pre­vent a di­et­ing men­tal­ity, rigid­ity in food choices or an ‘‘all or noth­ing’’ at­ti­tude when it comes to food. Re­mind them that food is nu­tri­tious (or not) and peo­ple are healthy (or not). And the more nu­tri­tious food they choose, the health­ier they will usu­ally be.

Dr Libby is a nu­tri­tional bio­chemist, best-sell­ing author and speaker. The ad­vice con­tained in this col­umn is not in­tended to be a sub­sti­tute for di­rect, per­son­alised ad­vice from a health pro­fes­sional. Dr Libby is tour­ing 17 towns and cities with her Food Frus­tra­tions event, talk­ing about the con­fu­sion around food and what you’re sup­posed to eat. See dr­libby.com/events for full de­tails.

123RF

It’s im­por­tant to re­mind chil­dren that food is nu­tri­tious (or not) and peo­ple are healthy (or not)

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