What would you say if I told you that you hold the power to nurture a child’s relationship with food or to destroy it? Amongst all the other amazing things you do, you may not have realised that when it’s time to eat your teaching skills are in most need. In fact, any time that food or eating is the focus of learning or discussion for the little ones in your care you have a golden opportunity.
Our kids are growing up in a world that tells them they can’t trust themselves to make the right decisions when it comes to food. That people need diets and the latest superfood to be healthy.
They learn that some foods are good, some are bad, some are healthy, and some are not.
They learn that others know better than they do about how much food they should eat – “finish the plate” or “a few more bites” or “you can’t possibly still be hungry”.
Our world teaches them that their bodies need to look a certain way to fit in; that certain bodies are preferred, and some are to be reviled. They mistakenly learn that to be thin is to be healthy and to be fat is not. Through all this they learn that they are not enough, and slowly they begin to tune out and not listen to the soft whispers of their bodies that guide them to take care of their bodies and nourish themselves faithfully.
Children hear these body whispers loud and clear as babies, but sometime very soon after babyhood our society teaches them not to listen anymore.
But YOU have the power to change that.
You can teach children that food is just food, not good or bad.
You can remind them that all bodies are amazing, no matter their size, shape or colour.
You can be the gentle voice that reminds them that all bodies can be healthy and do wondrous things, no matter their shape, size, colour or gender.
You can gently support them to be food explorers so that they may enjoy all kinds of foods, remaining free of moral judgement of their eating for life.
You can teach children to tune back into the whispers of their bodies telling them when they are tired and when they need to run, when they are hungry and when they have had enough to eat. You can teach them to REALLY listen. This is what it means to be mindful and to JUST BE. It is the path to health.
You can help restore a child’s faith in themselves and in their body, and as you do that you will begin to restore faith in yourself and in your body too.