Food as a Reward
The only food that can technically be used as a reward is those juicy, perfect orange slices after a soccer game! I remember observing a friend with their child years ago that would say lines such as “If you say thank you to your grandma for the new toy you can have a cookie.” No, your child says thank you to grandma because when you receive a gift you say thank you. Using food as a reward can link feelings of great satisfaction with food. Children will start to think if they behave well, or accomplish something great, then they deserve to have a treat. Food is a necessity, not a bonus for doing the right thing.
Forcing a Child to Finish their Meal
I have never been a fan of forcing a child to finish their meal. Of course, do not let your child starve, but they do not need to force themselves to swallow pieces of food with tears running down their face while gagging with each swallow.
If you say no, they will want it more. Come on, we have all been told no to things. It just makes us want it more!! Candy is not going away, it is appealing to the eye and the marketing behind candy packages is genius. Having some candy here or there (holidays, birthdays, parties) will not ruin your child. Incorporating candy daily into the diet WILL ruin your child’s health. Remember, anything in moderation is ok, even candy.
Electronics at the Dinner table
Dinner should be a routine in which the family can come together, without distraction and discuss important parts of each other’s day. Even a small child, who is unable to converse, should be eating without distraction. This allows the child to appreciate the taste of the different (healthy) foods that are fueling their body. Watching TV, listening to music, or playing video games should not be linked to food. This is a major problem leading to childhood obesity. If a child is watching TV, they may unintentionally over eat and over indulge. Having a routine during meals allows slow and controlled eating, with light conversation and minimal distraction.
Food on the go
I know this is hard, especially with demanding schedules. Two working parents, numerous sport obligations, activities and schoolwork make this last rule extremely hard. Hear me out, if you are going to go through a drive through, leave 10 minutes early and sit at the restaurant. Pull the car over and eat together outside or in a parking lot. Wake your child up ten minutes early to eat the bar at home, not on the bus. If you are going for a road trip, food does not need to be a necessity. Take breaks; eat before or after the car ride. If we are eating on the go, we are not only rushed, but instilling the idea that a car ride means we eat, rather than our body telling us we are hungry.