As parents we can often send messages about food to our children without knowing it. Here are a few things to be aware of.
*From a young age do you reward them with food? Do you say, “If you are good today at the store Mom will buy you a treat?”
* Is food withheld as a punishment? Example: “If you don’t behave I will send you to bed without dinner.”
*Do you give candy or a treat to your child when they are hurt to try to get them to stop crying?
This is dangerous because it teaches the child to not cry and feel and express their emotions but to deny them, stuff them away, and eat. Saying, "There is nothing really wrong, here is something nice to distract you." The better way is picking the child up from a fall and say "I know you are upset. Let's look at your elbow and see if you need a Band-Aid."
*Do you tell your child to ignore their own body’s full signal and to still eat everything on the plate regardless? Encourage your child to try to listen to their own body. If it says it is full then they should stop eating, if they feel hunger they should eat. Sometimes my little ones say they are hungry when I know they had recently eaten and shouldn't be hungry yet. I ask, "what does your belly say? Does it say you are hungry?" Often I find they are bored or just thirsty.
*Do they hear you say to a friend “I was bad and had some cookies last night?”
Each of these send unhealthy connections to food. It links behavior with food. The last one links guilt with certain food which is the most dangerous of them all. j
That is why I hate commercials that say "Fat-free, guilt-free ice cream"
or the famous restaurant where you will find on their menu "Guilt Free Menu" where their low-fat meals are.
I know for me this helped impact the guilt I felt for eating. Awareness is key and as a parent we need to combat these messages the best we can.