If there is one thing that has surprised me the most about motherhood, it's that Little Miss is always watching. She literally is like a little sponge that soaks up everything she sees and hears. Which is amazing, but also slightly terrifying!
So this is it. This is how my nutritional choices affect her. She sees everything I eat, and she also hears how I talk about food and my body. That's huge! Research has shown that children who observe their parents eating/drinking whole unprocessed foods will also increase their intake of those specific foods. The research went further to say that when those children spend time around their peers, the positive eating habits will transfer to their friends as well (Birch, Savage, &Ventura, 2009). Positive social modeling impacts your kids AND their friends!!! (I'll link the article below so you can read it too!)
We influence not just the physical act of eating, but their thought patterns about their bodies too. A reports from Common Sense Media states that children between the ages of 5-8 who think their mothers are dissatisfied with their bodies are more likely to think the same about their own bodies. That was earth shattering for me, especially when I considered how our kiddos take in everything we say and do!
So what can we do? First, avoid talking about weight or how we look! If we consistently talk about those topics, our kids will think they matter more than other things. Second, make healthy choices in the kitchen and on the go! Focus on providing nourishing foods that will give your child energy to be active. And when you are out and about, make sure to choose places that offer healthy options. Third, make healthy eating a habit...and stay away from crash/fad diets. If we teach our kids to choose healthy unprocessed foods, they are more likely to make those choices later in life. And lastly, monitor what social media, TV, movies, etc. your kids are watching. We are constantly bombarded with what society claims is perfection, let's protect our kids from negative social influence while we can.
Birch, L., Savage, J.S., and Ventura A.(2007) Influences on the Development of Children's Eating Behaviours: From Infancy to Adolescence,68(1):s1-s56.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2678872/
Children, Teens, Media, And Body Image.https://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/children-teens-media-and-body-image