Ways to Explain Healthy Eating to Kids

Explain Healthy Eating to Kids

As many of my readers know, I’ve been trying to work on my weight for a long time. And that means watching what I eat, “dieting” with programs, and leading a healthy lifestyle. Since having my daughter that has brought up a lot of questions including one that has me questioning how to explain healthy eating to kids. Or the lack thereof.

Since being on Nutrisystem for 5 months my daughter now asks me, “Is that special?” whenever she sees me eating or drinking something. And I don’t want her to think that I can only eat or drink special things. I want her to know that because I didn’t eat that healthy when I was younger and made poor choices, I’m now making up for it in an attempt to get to a healthy weight. And that since she already eats healthy and is active she doesn’t need the “special” food that mommy eats.

But how in the world do I tell her that? She’s 2! And she sees me get on the scale every day checking in with myself. So much so that she’s decided to jump along with me and weighs herself as well.

Explain Healthy Eating to Kids mommy daughter

Ways to Explain Healthy Eating to Kids

In an effort to try and put a positive spin on my weight loss efforts as well as attempt to not corrupt my daughter’s view of herself and her body I’ve discussed the topic with friends over the past few weeks and have come back with some awesome tidbits of wisdom. Here are a few great ways to explain healthy eating to kids without screwing them up too much.

1. Talk about Health and Nutrition

The biggest thing I lacked when growing up was the concept of healthy eating and balance. I think my main problem came up when I was in the 6th grade and was allowed to stay home after school alone until my mom got home. I’d go home, turn on the tv, do my homework, talk with my friends, and eat. The whole time. I didn’t realize that this mindless eating when bored would come back to haunt me.

So I am constantly talking about health and nutrition to the kids. We have a garden. They help us prepare food. I set out different foods for them daily to try if they want. We walk the farmers markets.

The one thing I don’t do is talk about low fat this or sugar free that. Instead I focus more on well-balanced meals. Full fat cheese with a whole grain cracker is perfectly fine. As long as you don’t eat the whole block of cheese. And I hope that my kids pick up on that and use it when they get older and make their own decisions.

2. Explain Why They Can’t Have Your Food

Just as a diabetic eats certain things or someone with allergies eats off of a specific plan, people who are trying to lose weight eat different things as well. I’ve simply told my daughter that because I’m trying to get healthy (I generally stay away from telling her I’m trying to lose weight) I eat different foods than she does. Because she is already healthy she doesn’t need these special foods.

I reiterate that I still eat all of the healthy fruits and veggies that she does, I eat yogurt like she does, I eat crackers and cheese like she does, but when dessert time comes and she’s enjoying a fruit ice pop or a scoop of ice cream, I enjoy my special treat that allows me to continue my journey to being a healthier mom for her.

3. Stay Active as a Family

Sometimes it isn’t about talking. It’s about doing. Every night we go on an evening walk as a family. It’s about a mile long and we go at a leisurely pace. Basically the kids set the pace we go. When they start complaining that they don’t want to go or they’re too tired we simply let them know that Mommy and Daddy want to stay healthy and that means we have to stay active. They’re more than welcome to sit in the wagon we bring if they get tired. But we do it as a family.

On the weekends we try and pick out fun activities to help us stay active and explain why we do these things. We need to move to keep our bodies moving. And we need to keep up with the kids!

My daughter has also noticed how much I go to the gym. She knows that’s where i go after I drop her off at school and is always curious about what I’m doing. So I tell her that just like when she goes out and plays with her friends at school outside, mommy plays with her friends at the gym. She’s seen the classes I take and has also seen me do workout videos at home so she understands a bit. I’m sure as she continues to watch me she’ll get it more.

Explain Healthy Eating to Kids smile

4. Positive Affirmations

When I wake up in the morning and walk into the bathroom my daughter follows. As I wash my face and brush my teeth (because we all know I don’t shower daily) I tell myself in the mirror that my hair looks great that morning or that I’m loving the shape of my eyes. I know that my daughter is watching me and sees me looking in the mirror at myself.

Then when I step on the scale to see what I weigh that morning I start with a smile on my face. I see the number and quickly get off and go to the bedroom to get dressed. She’s started to mimic me and instead of talking to herself in the mirror she talks to herself on the scale. She has been telling her that she’s growing perfectly because she’s eating vegetables. It’s the cutest thing ever.

5. Believe in Yourself

Don’t just put on a show for your kids. Really believe that you’re awesome. Know that you are a role model for them and that you will succeed in being the best parent you can be. Your kids will show you that without you even having to ask. So if you in turn act like the awesome person you are, they’ll see that and know that they’re awesome too.

I love when I catch my daughter looking in the mirror and smiling. Or doing a little happy dance when she’s naked because it makes her happy. I love when she sees my curly hair and looks at her curly hair and says, “We have beautiful hair, don’t we Mama?” Seeing her positive self image makes me want to love myself even more as well.

Have you had to explain healthy eating and dieting to your kids?

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  1. I think this is such an important message for us and our children. You are a wonderful role model to help instill a positive body image in your children.

  2. I’ve done a couple special diets over the past few years and I’ve really worried about Evan’s perceptions of my eating habits. It’s hard when they want your food and it’s your “diet food!” Great ideas for making the conversation positive.

  3. I think that’s a super hard thing to handle because it falls under that “do as I say not as I do” kind of thing which isn’t what we want! You’ve come up with some great ways to counterbalance it!

  4. Healthy eating is pretty important in our house, and I agree that keeping the kids involved and engaged in talks about healthy eating can set them up for success throughout life!

  5. We talk about staying in our house, too – and I agree that it is a big plus to keep the kids involved. It helps give them the foundation they will need for a healthy future.

  6. I think you are doing a wonderful job and I love the tips. I do think it is important that we teach being healthy not dieting. Keep up the great job.

  7. Healthy eating is so important in our household! I love all the tips! Thank you!

  8. My daughters know that I don’t want candy. She still tries to share her candy with me and I have to explain to her that mommy can’t eat candy. Though I’m lucky that they are finally eating fruits and vegetables now so we pretty much eat all the same stuff minus the junk food for me.

  9. Fabulous post Danielle! I definitely have thought a lot lately about how my children view my eating habits vs. how I am trying to teach them to eat. Clearly, I need work in this area and I LOVE this blog post! Thank you soo much!

  10. You’re doing a great thing by explaining your ‘diet food’ to her in a way that she can understand. You’ve got some great pointers here.

  11. Great post! I have a rule in my house to not use the D word … diet. So, when I’m trying to lose weight, I focus on healthy eating and tell my girls as such. I make a conscious effort to instill the ‘heathy’ and prevent the obsession with the scale. Girls have a hard time growing up, I’d like to start early and instill those positive outlooks.


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  2. […] have stopped saying negative things about my appearance and myself in front of her. When I weigh myself in the morning I smile even when I want to cry. And when I’m trying on clothes I make sure to critique the […]

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