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Food For Thought – Create a Body-Positive Home this New Year!

First off…happy new year! I hope you all enjoyed some well-deserved R&R and, most importantly, some time off with the family these last few weeks.

It’s January! It’s that time of year where, as consumers, we are bombarded with messages from the media and beyond regarding weight loss and weight-related new year’s resolutions. Our children are too. Ads for programs pop up everywhere promising a “new you” and the next diet craze. At the same time, it’s not uncommon for meal time discussions to center on weight management. How often do you hear someone say they can’t have something because they are trying to lose or watch their weight? (*slowly raises hand*) I get it. I’ve said it before too. Do I say it now? No. Why? I’ll explain…

Focusing on weight in the presence of our children often backfires – leading both young children and teens to feelings of guilt, insecurities about their bodies, sneaking food and sometimes disordered eating. Instead of “weight” talk, it’s more effective to talk about foods in the sense of taste and healthfulness.

Here are a few ways to help your kids develop body-positive attitudes and healthful behaviours:

Make food fun

This is the first one on the list because I think this is the most important. You’ve heard me say this a lot over the years: “Get your kids in the kitchen”! Every kid, of all ages, has a role to play in the kitchen. Check out my article at www.themomandcaregiver.com/health-fitness/cook-with-your-kids-this-march-break/ for more tips to making food fun and getting your little chefs involved.

Teach them what healthy eating is and isn’t

Teach your kids that a healthy meal is half full of delicious vegetables and fruits. A healthy meal is also eating with the family as often as possible – whether it’s dinner time together during the week, breakfast in the morning, or lunches together over the weekend. Whatever works for your family and schedules. Obsessing about calories, carbs, fats or any nutrient for that matter is not healthy. It can make meals stressful and unpleasant.

Be a role model

Model a healthy attitude and eating habits that you would want your children to copy. Take time to really reflect on where you think you are doing great as a role model and where you think you could maybe do better. Nobody’s perfect. For some, the body shaming and “weight” talk has been ingrained in us since our early years, so making changes to be a better role model for our children can be a lot harder.

Put healthy behaviours into perspective instead of weight

Healthy behaviours like making half your plate veggies and fruit, limiting highly processed foods, making water your drink of choice, eating with others, cooking more often, being mindful of your eating habits and being active every day are examples of much better markers of health than weight.

Take any concerns to a health professional

If you’re concerned about your or your child’s weight, diet or body image, talk with your healthcare provider and schedule an appointment with a Registered Dietitian. A dietitian will be able to assess your family’s diet and help you make appropriate changes to meet the needs of you and your family. Looking for a dietitian? Look no further! Email me at jenn@sparknutritionandhealth.ca.

Jenn Giurgevich is a Registered Dietitian and former contract Professor at Brescia University College with a wealth of nutrition knowledge. Over the last 10+ years, Jenn has paired her love for nutrition and health with her undeniable love for fitness, working as both a personal trainer and fitness instructor.


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