Fun foods can be tricky for parents and the end of the year is what we like to call Fun Food Season. How can we, as parents, maintain a healthy relationship with fun foods for ourselves? How can we help to foster this healthy relationship with fun foods for our kiddos?
Here are some tips to help you navigate fun foods!
Tip 1: Find a happy medium for having treat foods around and for how they are offered to your and your family.
Research has shown time and time again that when we overly restrict or control treats, we will go overboard the next time we are “allowed” to have them. This applies to adults and kids alike.
This doesn’t mean unlimited access, though. Fun foods shouldn’t take the place of nutritious foods, but we are looking for balance.
This will look different for every family, but it’s our job as parents to include fun foods regularly. You don’t want to be too restrictive because that creates that feast or famine feeling.
People like sweets and will find a way to get them. If your kids aren’t getting a reasonable amount of fun foods at your house, chances are they’re getting them somewhere else. And they are likely eating them in excess or when they aren’t even hungry.
Tip 2: Call food by it’s name.
We want to avoid assigning morality to foods. Food is just food. It’s not good or bad.
For example, if we want our kids to choose fruit or vegetables as a snack over candy, say just that. Don’t say that candy is “junk” or “sugar” and that fruits and vegetables are “healthy” or “good.”
Talk about foods in a neutral way and it will help you and your family establish a healthy relationship with ALL FOODS.
Tip 3: Let your kids (and yourself!) go bonkers with treats every once in awhile.
According to dietitian and pediatric specialist, Ellyn Satter, when we let kids have their “fun foods” every so often (not all of the time, of course!), it helps our little ones learn self-regulation.
It helps them find answers to questions like:
- When am I satisfied?
- What does it feel like to want more?
- What does it feel like to overdo it?
This also helps to take away the perceived “specialness” of foods and brings neutrality to the conversation.
Helping our kids (and ourselves!) to have a healthy relationship with food is essential and not an easy job. Let’s start removing those black and white boundaries and serve dessert with our dinner!
Leftover candy corn? Try these fall vibes energy bites!