My oldest daughter is an eater. She has her days, of course, and she has certain foods that she doesn’t care for, but all in all, she loves to eat. While crackers and bread top her favorite foods list, she also frequently requests craisins and tomatoes.
Am I just lucky to have such a great eater?
I don’t think so. I believe that it has way more to do with how I am teaching her about eating rather than luck.
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When Sofía was 9 months old, I read the book French Kids Eat Everything*. This book explores the journey that one multicultural family took from Vancouver, Canada to a very small town in France. The woman that wrote the book, Karen Le Billon, said that when they moved to France, her daughters (ages 5 and 2) were atrocious eaters and barely touched anything that resembled a vegetable. By the end of the book and their time in France, her daughters were well versed in a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as many foods that North American adults would never think about eating.
Important Eating Habits All Kids Should Learn
After reading this eye-opening book, I realized that I needed to be actively teaching my daughters about food. Without the example and knowledge of the parent, a child will not know how, what, when, where, or why to eat. It is up to me, ultimately, to get my daughters to eat food.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Children don’t come into this world knowing their ABCs or that 2+2=4. We have to teach them those things. The same goes for food and eating habits. You have to teach your kids or they are always going to struggle with this very simple, yet complex, topic.
You may be wondering what, exactly, great eating habits are. In French Kids Eat Everything, there are 10 “rules” that dictate how you should run mealtimes, and these are basically the eating habits I’m talking about. Here are the rules, straight from the book:
- Parents: You are in charge of food education!
- Avoid emotional eating.
- Parents schedule meals and menus.
- Eat family meals together without distractions.
- Eat a variety of foods.
- You don’t have to like it, but you do have to taste it.
- No snacking.
- Slow food is happy food.
- Eat mostly real food.
- Eating is joyful, so relax!
Reasons to Follow Food Rules
Here are my reasons why you need to proactively teach your kids how to eat:
1. They will only learn about eating habits at home.
Teaching great eating habits to your children at an early age means that they will know better when they come to situations later in life where these habits are not prevelant. One day, your kids will leave the house without you holding their hands. Whether it’s at school or at a friend’s house, they will be introduced to very lax eating habits. With a strong foundation learned at home, however, they will be more likely to stick to what they know.
2. So they can lead a healthier life.
These eating habits will be a lifeline throughout your child’s life when they encounter difficult choices about food. Without them, their choices will be poor and they can develop all kinds of health problems.
Our culture teaches young kids that they should look a certain way in order to get any kind of attention. With all this pressure, some young people end up with anorexia and bulimia. I think it’s more important for your kids to know how to eat well rather than to try getting a body that is really unachievable without being unhealthy.
3. You can expect less mess.
Good eating habits include eating slowly and properly. This means that you probably won’t have as many messes to clean up off the floor and from their faces and hair. If your kids are also snacking less and at the table (instead of in the car or while walking around the house), you won’t have to clean up their crumbs everywhere else.
4. Your bank account will thank you later.
Part of great eating habits is eating just the right amount, not too much and not too little. This often means you will probably start eating less food at meal-times, which means more ka-ching in your bank account. Another habit that you want your kids to develop is eating at specified times. No more grazing and requesting food at bedtime. This also cuts way back on how much you are spending on food.
5. Everybody will be happier.
I love the last eating habit, but we have to work on it. Making sure dinner time is a relaxing and enjoyable experience on a daily basis can be done, but it definitely takes effort from everyone in the family. When you sit down at the dinner table without a ton of stress eating away at you, you will be happier and less likely to get mad at Little Suzy for getting food on her shirt. You can also bet that if you are teaching great eating habits, you won’t have to force your kids to eat their veggies, and this makes everybody a little happier on the inside. 🙂
Are you a little more convinced that you need to teach your kids healthy eating habits?
Make sure to check out the other posts in this series:
- Let’s Talk Kids and Food
- Kids and Food: Great Eating Habits Start With YOU
- Kids and Food: The Snacking Rule
- Kids and Food: Short-Order Cooking
- Kids and Food: Eat Your Veggies
- Kids and Food: Emotional Eating
- Kids and Foods: Taste Everything
- Kids and Food: No Distractions
- Kids and Food: Eat Real Food
- Kids and Food: Eat Slow