What would you say if I told you that you hold the power to nurture a child’s relationship with food or to damage it? Amongst all the other amazing things you do, you may not have realised that when it’s time to eat, your teaching skills are in most need. In fact, any time that food or eating is the focus of learning or discussion for the little ones in your care – you have a golden opportunity.
Our kids are growing up in a world that tells them they can’t trust themselves to make the right decisions when it comes to food. They can come to believe through observation that people need diets and the latest superfood to be healthy.
They come to believe that some foods are good, some are bad, some are healthy, and some are not.
They come to believe that others know better than they do about how much food they should eat–“finish the plate” or “a few more bites” or “you can’t possibly still be hungry”.
Our world teaches children that their bodies need to look a certain way to fit in; that certain bodies are preferred, and some are most certainly NOT. They come to believe healthy = thin and larger bodies = unhealthy. Through all this they come ot believe that they are not enough, and slowly they begin to tune out. They begin to not listen to the soft whispers of their bodies that guide them to take care of and nourish themselves faithfully.
Children hear these body whispers loud and clear as babies, but sometime very soon after babyhood our society teaches them not to listen anymore.
But YOU have the power to change that.
You can teach children that food is just food, not good or bad.
You can remind them that all bodies are amazing, no matter their size, shape or colour.
You can be the gentle voice that reminds them that all bodies can be healthy and do wondrous things, no matter their shape, size, colour or gender.
You can gently support them to be food explorers so they may enjoy all kinds of foods, remaining free of moral judgement of their eating for life.
You can guide children to tune back into the whispers of their bodies telling them when they are tired and when they need to run, when they are hungry and when they have had enough to eat. You can give them opportunities to REALLY listen to their innate wisdom. This is what it means to be mindful and to JUST BE. It is the path to health.
You can help restore a child’s faith in themselves and in their body, and as you do that, you will begin to restore faith in yourself and in your body too.
Accredited Practising Dietitian & Director
Post edited 2 July 2020