What Role Does Your Parent’s Attitude About Food Play in Your Life Today?

Please welcome Lindsey Ceniviva as this week’s guest blogger. Lindsey has her biology degree and is planning on pursuing a career in nutrition. She has been working as a summer intern, for me, for which I am incredibly grateful for. Ask, and you shall receive!

What role does the way our parents think about food, influence our thoughts today as adults?

Was food considered a form of reward or punishment? Was it a complete social activity or competition? Were there power struggles? Was there always more than enough, or did you have to elbow your siblings out of the way if you wanted to eat enough to be full?

Part of becoming an intuitive eater requires the realization that we don’t have to relive history. Just because our parents thought one way about food, does not mean we have to continue those same thoughts. Our parents most likely only had the best of intentions, but that does not mean those intentions still hold true for you today.

From the moment we are brought into this beautiful world we are bombarded with food and we learn very quickly that if we get upset and cry, we are rewarded with sweet, creamy, warm milk that nourishes us with feel good hormones. As a growing individual of course it is crucial to receive proper nourishment, however, being encouraged to “finish your plate” no matter how full you are, should be considered cruel and unusual punishment. As a parent, you may have already noticed, that the more you try to force a food on a child, the less likely that child will want to try that food.

We all want our kids to be healthy and maintain a well balanced diet, but it’s best to continuously offer (not force) a variety of food to your children if you want them to eat well. If you grew up in a house where you were forced to finish your plate, you were being taught to ignore your inner satiety cues. This behavior can lead to a lifetime of overeating.

Intuitive Eating is about looking deeper within your soul and listening to your body’s wants and needs. Most adults never stop to think about whether or not the voices in their head still hold true for them now. On the road to becoming an intuitive eater, the first stop is tuning in and becoming aware of your long lost hunger and satiety cues.

As a family, begin to move more and experiment with healthy meals. All members of the family can even be involved in the menu planning and preparation in order to promote a collective, happy and healthy lifestyle within the home.

Do not be afraid to utilize the internet, it has a vast number of recipe sites that are great for families. My favorites are Moms Meal Makeover, Food Network and Allrecipes. Creating warm, loving memories around food and mealtimes will overflow into your child’s life now and later in their own families.

Just as your parents had a tremendous amount of influence over your food thoughts, you, if you are a parent, have a lot of power over your children’s. Children really are the best intuitive eaters. The whole family should make a conscience effort to finally end the comparisons and competition among one another. Families that judge each other’s plates and body sizes can create a lifetime of eating issues. If you have a child or children at home who have an unhealthy body size, it’s best to begin to change your habits as a family, never single one child out. Keep in mind, food is only one piece of the equation, emotional support and adequate exercise are just as equally as important when it comes to body size.

As a family, begin to move more and experiment with healthy meals. All members of the family can be involved in the menu planning and preparation You may find your children are willing to try different foods if they had a part in creating the meal. Do not be afraid to utilize the internet, it has a vast number of recipe sites that are great for families. My favorites are Moms Meal Makeover, Food Network and Allrecipes. Creating warm, loving memories around food and mealtimes will overflow into your child’s life now and later in their own families.

I think it would be nice to incorporate the way we were raised with how we think about food today. The opinions we have about food now (and the voices we hear in our head) are most likely the voices of our parents or other caregivers. If food was used as reward or punishment when we were young, we will likely see food in the same light as adults. ie- “I have worked hard all day, I am going to treat myself to some ice cream” or the  opposite- “I have been eating so poorly lately, I am going to eliminate white sugar for the rest of my life”, etc.

Of course it is important when making a shift to have strong support and encouragement from your family members. If your spouse thinks that it is important for you to “clean your plate” or believes that ignoring your hunger is the best way to drop a few pounds, you will have a tougher road to travel.

Take a moment to honestly reflect on your current attitude towards food. Think about how it can be modified to enhance your family’s connection and time together. Recapture your inner intuitive eating skills, start by watching how your children decide when and what to eat – remember children are intuitive eating experts! As you regain your ability to listen to your inner signals you will begin to embark on a domestic journey to a lifestyle of health, happiness and a supportive home environment.

Article written by Lindsey Ceniviva BS


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Hi! I'm Heather: a body positivity, Health at Every Size dietitian. When I'm not blogging about wellness, I'm spending time with my fabulous family. Sometimes, they wear me out, so then it's time to bake, read, knit, tie myself into a yoga pose, or continue to work my first novel... stay tuned.

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