Today is Money-Saving Monday at CookingManager.Com.
Raising children with healthy eating habits saves money on food, health expenses, and more. But even on Money-Saving Monday, parents’ primary concern is still the mental and physical well-being of our children and not our wallets.
Obesity is growing at epidemic rates, along with anorexia and other eating disorders. My mother used a variety of strategies that I believe helped her children develop a healthy attitude toward food. I can’t say that I have no food issues, and genetics play an important role as do many other psychological factors. As commenter Leora suggested, eating disorders may have more to do with emotions than food. But I think her approach served us well.
- Served appropriate servings on individual plates. Click to read my analysis of the advantages of this approach.
- Served a healthy, varied, and fresh dinner for the family every day at the same time. This included soup, meat or fish, a starch, a cooked vegetable and a salad. Or a casserole and salad.
- Never offered seconds nor expected children to clear their plates, beyond pointing out the importance of not wasting food.
- Never forced us to eat. She encouraged us to try new foods, but I don’t recall any battles. If you didn’t like something, you made a peanut butter sandwich. My brother often did.
- Never restricted food. Seconds were available on asking. Snacks included fruit or cookies and milk.
- Did not discuss food at meals. My mother thought about food preparation a lot. She devoted time to learning new techniques and cooked special foods for Sabbath and holidays. But the eating itself was never the focus. There was little discussion about whether this or that item was tastier, because once served and eaten its taste was irrelevant.
- Involved children in meal preparation. I believe this also took the focus off of eating.
- Rarely served fancy desserts, and did not cook to “show off.”
- Rarely talked about her own weight and dieting.
My mother’s goal was to serve healthy, tasty, and attractively presented food, so that her family and guests would have an enjoyable eating experience. But she left decisions about the type of food, the quantity, and and even whether to eat, up to each person.
What strategies do you recommend for parents to raise children with a balanced attitude toward food?
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