WORDS: Georgie Thomas
If you have struggled with diets and all those rules it teaches us like, don’t eat carbs after 6pm, or maybe don’t even eat carbs or sweets at all, chances are deep down you have subconscious rules and beliefs around food and have a negative relationship with it.
Even though you might be trying your hardest not to show these beliefs and emotions to your kids…It is incredible what kids pick up on and bring into their adult life. For the majority of my clients, their beliefs around food and their body image come from childhood and watching their parents. Between the ages of 0-7 a child’s mind has not developed enough to be able to question things. They look at their caregivers and learn all their beliefs from them.
So ask yourself, do you feel like you give yourself permission to eat all types of foods? Do you have rules around food? Do you label foods as good or bad and therefore feel like a good or bad person depending on what you eat? Do you have negative emotions around food such as guilt and shame?
If you answered yes to any of these, don’t feel bad, this unfortunately is very common because of the impact diet culture has had.
But what is right?
First of all, mending your relationship with your body and food is the number 1 best thing you can do to impact your child’s beliefs.
Secondly, be mindful of how you talk about food and what beliefs you’re passing on. All food serves a purpose. Now, I’m not saying give your child chocolate for breakfast everyday, but if, for example, sweets are the forbidden fruit in your house, long term this creates a negative relationship with this food group as they go into adult life. The mind wants what it can’t have so if they have been forbidden something throughout childhood, there is a chance they might start going to town on it or not trust themselves around it as they get older. I see this play out with my clients in terms of binge eating and also an ‘all or nothing’ mindset around food and dieting.
The aim is to be neutral around food and not create an event around it; food is just food.
It all serves a purpose and it is important to include all food groups into our life. The more you can practice this, the higher the chance your kids will actually choose to pick an orange over chocolate because they wouldn’t have learned that ‘chocolate is naughty’ or ‘only for special events’ and want what they can’t usually have.
Kids have such a great innate ability to know what they feel like and what makes them feel good. Children start off as very intuitive eaters, they eat until they are full then stop. They cry when they are hungry and want to be fed immediately. It is only as they get older that they learn rules and beliefs around certain things that this starts changing and affecting their relationship with food.
If you want to learn more about this, feel free to reach out and as I said, the best way to impact your child is to first work on your own relationship with food as they watch and learn everything through you.
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