Raising Kids To Have Healthy Relationships with Food: From Feeding Them to Teaching Them About Nutrition

There are a lot of things to worry about when it comes to raising kids, but one of the most important is helping them develop healthy relationships with food. It’s crucial that they learn how to balance their diets and make good choices when it comes to what they eat. But it’s also important that they understand the importance of nutrition and how their food choices can affect their health. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips for raising kids who have healthy relationships with food!

The Research Behind Kids, Parents, and Nutrition

There is a lot of research out there that tells us about how the relationship between kids, parents, and food can lead to long-lasting effects on how kids eat, both positively and poorly. 

One study found that  when kids are given more autonomy over what they eat, it’s likely going to lead them toward making healthier choices. It also found that kids who feel like their parents care about what they’re eating (but don’t necessarily control every aspect of their diet) tend to have better relationships with food than those who aren’t given much freedom or guidance from their parents (1). 

Another study reviews the incidence of eating disorders in children and adolescents and their correlation with poor food relationships from external pressures.  The study found that restrictive eating, binge eating, and purging were more common in adolescents who felt pressure from their families to eat a certain way or look a certain way. The researchers concluded that it was important for parents to focus on creating positive relationships with food instead of placing restrictions on what their kids could and couldn’t eat (2). 

The main take away from this research is value the importance of finding balance between giving your kids enough freedom to make healthy choices on their own and still providing guidance and support.

The Importance of Building Healthy Relationships with Food

Helping kids develop healthy relationships with food is important for their overall health and wellbeing. A balanced relationship with food is key to maintaining longterm health, having energy throughout the day, and preventing diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. These behavioral shifts can even prevent the risk of things like eating disorders, depression, and anxiety in kids and later on into adulthood. But it’s not just about what they eat – it’s also important that they understand why they’re eating healthy foods. When kids know the importance of eating healthy, they’re more likely to make good choices when it comes to their diets. 

Tips for Raising Kids with Healthy Relationships with Food

There are a lot of things parents can do to help their kids develop healthy relationships with food. Here are some tips:

Build Balanced Plates

One of the best ways to help kids develop healthy relationships with food is to teach them how to build balanced plates. This means that they should include a variety of foods from all four food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein. It’s also important for them to balance their meals by eating both carbohydrates and protein. Try mixing and matching different ingredients to allow kids to explore and identify different foods.

Don’t Force Feed

You don’t need to teach your kids to be a part of the “clean your plate” club. This will only make them hate food and lead to unhealthy eating habits down the road. Instead, try to provide a variety of healthy foods and let your child decide what they want to eat. If they’re not hungry, that’s okay- they can always eat later. Avoid putting too much pressure on them to eat certain foods or diets. Let them make their own choices, within reason, and allow them to have junk food in moderation.

Teach Them About Nutrition

One of the best ways to help kids develop healthy relationships with food is to teach them about nutrition. This can start as early as preschool, when you can talk to them about the different food groups and why it’s important to have a balance in their diets. You can also teach them about the importance of healthy eating habits and how their food choices can affect their health.

Don’t Food or Body Shame

Research shows negative reinforcement almost never works.  In fact, it often has the opposite effect- kids who are constantly criticized for their weight or diet tend to develop eating disorders and unhealthy relationships with food. So instead of shaming your child, try to be supportive and positive. Praise them when they make healthy choices, and help them learn how to love their body no matter what size it is.

Get Them Cooking

One way to help kids develop a healthy relationship with food is to get them involved in the cooking process. Let them help you prepare meals, and let them choose what they want to eat. This will give them a sense of ownership over their food, and they’ll be more likely to eat it if they’ve had some input in choosing what’s served at meal times.

Teach By Example

One of the best ways to help kids develop healthy relationships with food is to set a good example. If you aren’t fueling your body in a healthy way, then they’ll follow suit. So try setting some time aside every week or two where your family goes on an outdoor walk together- this will get everyone moving while also teaching them how important it is to stay active. And when it comes to meal times, try eating healthy foods yourself and avoid putting unhealthy foods in front of your kids. They’ll learn more from what you do than what you say.

So, how do we go about teaching our kids to have a healthy relationship with food? It starts with feeding them nutritious foods and setting a good example ourselves. We can also talk to our kids about the importance of balanced diets and positive body image. And finally, we should encourage our kids to get active and stay active! By raising our kids with healthy attitudes towards food, we’re laying the groundwork for lifelong wellness. What are some things you do at home to help your child develop a healthy relationship with food?


1. Savage, Jennifer S et al. “Parental influence on eating behavior: conception to adolescence.” The Journal of law, medicine & ethics : a journal of the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics vol. 35,1 (2007): 22-34. doi:10.1111/j.1748-720X.2007.00111.x https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2531152/

2. Rienecke, Renee D. “Family-based treatment of eating disorders in adolescents: current insights.” Adolescent health, medicine and therapeutics vol. 8 69-79. 1 Jun. 2017, doi:10.2147/AHMT.S115775 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5459462/

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