Raising Kids To Have A Healthy Relationship With Food

Raising Kids To Have A Healthy Relationship With Food


Hillary Cecere MS, RDN



Hi Bros!  AHHHH I’m so excited for my first blog post!! Especially because this topic is super important to me.  I want all your baby bros to grow up to love themselves and view food and exercise with only positivity.  

I was recently trying on clothes at a store when I heard another woman in the dressing room next to me say “I look disgusting in this bathing suit. I really need to lose weight.”  I initially thought she was just thinking out loud, but I realized that her young daughter was in the dressing room with her.  This broke my heart because I was once that little girl who listened to so many women in my life criticize their appearances and it taught me to do the same.

Now, I’m a mom of two little girls and I’m determined to break the cycle.  Dieting, body dysmorphia and food obsession can start as early as elementary school.  Social media, the diet industry and peers are all influential, but so is what happens at home.  It’s my goal to show my girls how to love themselves and treat their bodies with the respect that they deserve. I want to raise intuitive eaters that listen to their bodies and follow their hunger cues.

Below are my tips on how to foster a healthy relationship with food for your babes!


Let’s stop demonizing foods in front of our kids!  When we say that a food is bad or unhealthy, we are teaching them to fear food.  It’s incredibly natural and normal for children to gravitate towards higher carbohydrate foods.  Kids like sweet foods over bitter ones because it signals a safe source of energy which is needed for growth and development.  Kids shouldn’t feel like there are bad foods and it’s important to allow kids to eat all kinds of foods.  This is teaching them about balance and moderation.   It’s also important to serve foods that you want your kids to eat but that they might not be ready to eat.  It’s providing them with the exposure they need to eventually try that “yucky green thing” aka broccoli.

Talk to your kids about the benefits of foods, not the calories. A good example is “did you know that blueberries aren’t just yummy, but they protect you from getting sick!?” or even “Ice cream is my favorite summertime food! I have the best memories of eating ice cream with Uncle Drew and Aunt Tori when we were kids.”  


The way you talk about your own body, capabilities and weight is impactful.  Children are always watching and listening.  That’s why you should never, ever put yourself down in front of your kids.  Talk yourself up to them!

I tell them stuff I like about my body.  I share with them that my belly is the best because it was their first home and provided them a safe place to grow.  When I’m getting dressed, I’ll often say things like “doesn’t mommy look awesome in this dress?”  Or “this dress doesn’t make me feel my best; I’m going to try another one. Want to help me pick?”  


Teaching kids about exercise should never be related to weight or burning calories.  Reframe it as exercise helps keep our bodies strong, it feels good and it’s fun.  If I’m headed to work out, I simply let my kids know that I’m going to work out so that I’m strong enough to always be able to pick them up.  Make being active fun with family walks, time at the park, bike riding or swimming.


Here are some simple ways to reframe weight related language:

Instead of….

Consider saying…

I can’t have any cake, I’m on a diet

I’m not hungry for cake right now but I think I’ll have some watermelon. What are you hungry for?

My stomach will never be the same after having babies

My body changed from carrying you guys in my belly, but it’s okay for bodies to change

You are such a picky eater


It’s fine to only like some foods right now, we can learn about new foods together and try them when you are ready

I need to up my cardio because I’m eating so bad

I’m going to exercise because I love how it makes me feel!

I have to exercise

I get to exercise

Finish your food

If you don’t feel hungry right now, you don’t have to eat

Cookies are not a breakfast food. They have too much sugar.

Cookies aren’t on the menu right now.  Would you like yogurt or oatmeal? 


A side benefit of not bashing my body, foods or exercise in front of my kids is that it has resulted in me truly believing it.  If you are currently struggling with your body acceptance, keep it positive in front of your kids, it might just lead to some self-love.  

I think my kids are gorgeous, smart, funny, healthy and just perfect.  I hope they always see themselves as I see them.  But I know that they will likely have moments when they question their appearance and abilities.  I hope to have armed them with the right tools to get them past those flashes of insecurity and remember that their worth is SO much bigger than a clothing size, an extreme diet or a crazy workout trend.


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