What’s the Best Diet for Your Child’s Mental Health?

This is not a post about calories or nutrition. This is about creating an ultimate meal environment to teach your child to love food, to eat foods appropriate for growing bodies, and to enjoy meal times with family.

Secret #1: Make all meals family meals: Meals should be social affairs. Don’t allow your child to eat alone, especially not alone in their room. Eating alone promotes obesity or even worse, an eating disorder. Eat together with your child. Even if you are not hungry, sit down and have a snack, and share conversation. A meal time is an opportunity to talk about your child’s day, your child’s feelings, and teach about spending time together. It’s also an opportunity to teach about the importance of exploring food tastes, food choices, and meal traditions.

I often tell families to pretend all their meals are like Thanksgiving. Instead of serving everybody an individual plate, try to set three to five main dishes in the middle of a table and give everybody an empty plate. Ask everyone to sit around the table and pass the main dishes with everybody serving themselves a little bit of each dish. Even if your child does not like the food, have them spoon just a little on their plate.

Excerpted from Psychology Today

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