Are We Raising Our Kids To Be Emotional Eaters? And How To Avoid It?

We, as parents, might be responsible for our kids to growing up to be emotional eaters. Making it harder for them to maintain healthy weight throughout their lives.

This is not some kind of research that I have done on the internet. This is my observations of my family, everyday interactions with our kids and parents. You are welcome to disagree with me, but If I made you think about your behaviors – my work here is done!

 

What Is An Emotional Eating?

According to www.mayoclinic.org it is eating as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness, and loneliness. Major life events or, more commonly, the hassles of daily life can trigger negative emotions that lead to emotional eating and disrupt your weight-loss efforts.

Where does this unhealthy habit starts? Is it something that’s being instilled in us during our childhood?

Food as a reward,
food as a comfort,
food as an entertainment …

 

No Wonder We Tend To Turn To Food In The Moment Of Stress, Upset Or Sorrow.

As a new mom, what do you usually do when your baby wakes up in the middle of the night crying? You pick-up your baby and straight away you offer a breast if you are a breastfeeding mom, or you go and prepare a formula, right? Yes we all have done it. But is this what your baby really needs? Not necessarily. When baby is born he or she is separated from you, and sometimes he/she just needs to feel you close – to touch your skin, to smell you. Sometimes only five minutes in your or in your partners arms is all that baby needs. What happens when baby is not hungry and just wants to be close to you, but instead you feed the baby? You start “programming” your child that it’s OK to compensate feeling of closeness with eating. How to avoid it? Next time when your baby cries, hold him/her and talk softly, sing a lullaby offer a sip of water when appropriate, and see if baby calms down, and gets sleepy again. If, no, of course offer him/her some milk, just don’t make the milk your first go to when calming your baby.

At what age do you let your kid to start eating on their own? Using his/hers own spoon? 6 months? 1 Year? 2 Years? We kind of want to delay this stage as much as possible, to avoid having a messy kitchen. If a child eats on his own, he can stop whenever he feels full. But if you keep feeding him, saying – eat this spoon for mommy, this spoon a daddy, etc, then you take away this sense of fullness. And that’s how you create a habit of overeating. Rising kids is not an exact science – You have to observe and go with your gut a lot. My kids started to eat with a spoon at 6 month, 7 months and 10 months of age – as soon as they started to show interest in a spoon when I was feeding them. Yes, it’s messy at first, but I think that’s a small price to pay for building healthy eating habits for your child.

As a toddler you are offered sweets when you have to be brave and go to see a doctor, sit still at hairdressers, etc. It’s all good, right? Or are we just programmed as kids (and now programming our kids) that when we are in unknown, stressful situations, then we should reward ourselves with something sweet. Yes, I know, you have to make kids behave somehow, and they have to have their checkups to make sure they are OK. But what if we would offer an experience as a reward? A one more bed time story in the evening, to draw together with mommy or daddy? I have to say that none of my 3 boys are having sweets as a reward. I’d rather buy them chocolate when they feel like it instead of giving a chocolate as a reward in stressful situation.

At all stages of our lives we are used to Celebrating with food. I’m not talking about Christmas, Thanksgivings etc. I’m talking about our successes – I sign a new client – have to go out celebrate to restaurant, went to a theater with your family – have to go to the coffee shop etc. It’s very understandable that we like being served, we like good food (or any food), so I’m not even gonna suggest stopping eating out. Eat out, just maybe try celebrating with experiences once in a while. Celebrate with tickets to a play, or trip to a zoo. Do something different and build better eating habits for your kids than you had!

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