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Children’s nutritionist says tricking kids into eating healthy foods will backfire on parents

Children’s nutritionist says tricking kids into eating healthy foods will backfire on parents

Recently, I found an article on ABC where they share that tricking your kids into eating healthy foods will backfire on parents or their guardians. As a tita who babysits her niece all the time, I find meal times really hard, especially since she’s a very fussy eater. She needs to eat foods from all five healthy food groups — vegetables, fruit, grain foods, dairy, and protein. 

Children’s nutritionist says tricking kids into eating healthy foods will backfire on parents

There are parents who, in an attempt to get their children to eat healthily, trick their kids by changing the names of foods. Children’s nutritionist at the Queensland University of Technology, Dr. Rebecca Byrne, expressed that it works.

That’s why parents use it in the heat of the moment. However, it will backfire on the parents and guardians in the long run. She also pointed out that it won’t be a good strategy, citing research and practices in her expertise. 

“Young kids need to see food and try food at least 10 times before they learn to like it. When we hide a food inside something else or don’t tell them what it is, it’s a missed opportunity to learn what something is. I know parents will be horrified thinking they have to do it so many times, but the good news is that you don’t need to do much at all.”

Dr. Bryne says when toddlers are told what they are eating, it helps them distinguish what food they put in their mouth.

Often, they come to enjoy the food that they once hated. When they try it and they know they’re trying out something healthy, they might not like it now. However, you can offer it to them again and again. Knowing what it is, they will learn to like it. We should also acknowledge that every one of us has food that we don’t like. Most times, we learn to hate it as we were made to eat it as a kid. So, Dr. Byrne encourages parents and guardians that the best way to help toddlers is eating with them every time you can. That way, you can talk about the food when sharing meal times together. 

Supporting children in developing a healthy relationship with food

We all want the children in our life to lead healthy and happy lives. However, it can be difficult to know how to best support their physical and mental health. As parents and guardians, we have a powerful opportunity to shape the way they think about and feel in their bodies. In turn, we have a powerful opportunity to shape their current and future health. 

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Parents and guardians need to shift the focus away from diet and weight and towards a focus on health and overall well-being. Shift the focus away from diet and weight and towards teaching children about the happiness that can come from cooking, eating, and joyful movements.

Move away from teaching kids to count calories or carefully monitor the number on the scale. Instead, seek to help kids develop a broad understanding of health and all of the things they need to develop into healthy, happy adults. 

Remember, you won’t always get it right. Trust in yourself that making a few changes to the way you talk to and around kids in your life can have a significant impact on helping them grow into healthy and happy adults. 

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