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Parenting - Bigger, Stronger, Leaner, Happier, Healthier Edition

I hope to be a dad some day. One thing that I have given some thought is that I myself have never had a good relationship with neither food nor treats. It’s been an unhealthy relationship in every way possible throughout my life and that’s not something I want for my future kids.

It’d be very interesting to read how some of you, as parents, approach this topic with your kids and their upbringing. Or, if you don’t have kids but believe some of the experiences you had as a kid was formative I welcome you to share that as well.

I, for one, believe that my family made a mistake in combining three “habits” which was that eating was always encouraged to go to the point of stuffed, rather than satisfied + it was not okay to not finish your plate + restricting sweets and treats to the weekend made it difficult for me to navigate what eating enough actually meant as I’d routinely eat far beyond comfort (like, when you go for seconds but then get full but the plate has to be finished thereby conditioning me to ignore the fullness signal) and binging heavily on unhealthy items come the weekend fueled how I came to be fat.

I want to raise kids that can navigate life somewhat with ease. That they’ll possess some level of fitness, but also not succumb to the asceticism I myself have exhibited at times. Therefore, I think about how to not make the same mistakes while also being cognizant to not make the opposite mistake.

But anything parenting related is welcome in this thread. It doesn’t have to stay relevant to diet/exercise.

@simo74 @dagill2 here’s the thread

I think the big thing for me is the idea that you are always communicating something, may not be what you’re saying or wish to communicate, but you’re communicating. This leads to whatever behaviour/perspective you model, your children will learn from.

It’ll hit home when your 3 year old gives you some attitude and it looks exactly like you or your partner, same posture, tone etc. Hopefully it looks like your partner that way it’s funnier for you :joy:.

This threat comes at an interesting time for me. My first child will be born in around seven to eight weeks so the wife and I have obviously talked a bit about how we’re planning to handle some of this stuff.
One thing that’s important to me is: I’ve seen several young families now where sweets are used as a bribe to make the kids behave and I think that could propably lead to an unhealthy relationship with sweets or food in genral. So while I totally understand the want for a quick and easy method of bribery when the kids are acting up, that’s one thing we really want to avoid.
The plan is to not really have sweets in the house and introduce the kid to them as late as possible. Same with sugary drinks, those are for “special” days.
I agree that eating to the point of being stuffed at every meal is not a good habit to get your kids into. In my experience, it’s often parents whose own parents maybe struggled to put enough food on the table that gravitate towards this kind of behaviour, at least that’s what I’ve seen in my extended family.

We eat meals at the table, no TV or phone (you wouldn’t believe the teeth gnashing this caused). This is the first step to eating mindfully IMO. We always put vegetables and protein on the plate so the kids think this is normal, we’ve always been able to convince them to eat at least one veggie.

For treats, we don’t use them as a reward. We tend to just say: let’s have a treat today and we have a moderate amount. If they ask for more, we will offer fruit or yoghurt or a ‘healthy’ kids bar. They’ll have fruit after dinner each day.

Again, not Infront of the TV or anything like that.


I’ll also add that kids are really, really good at regulating their eating. I learnt early on not to bother to force them to eat (sometimes some encouragement is needed) or restrict a lot of eating of real food. You’ll find they barely touch their food one week them shovel down the same food the next week just because of their growth/energy cycles.

This goes out the door with chocolate and other sweets though haha

Edit: this might just be my kids, if your kids never eat or always eat three times as much as you do then maybe not a good strategy

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I have three kids boy and 7 and two girls age 9 and 10. The wife and my approach to food with them changed a little over time, with us being much more strict with the first child and less so with the third.

When our kids were babies and starting to eat solids we were adamant that we would not buy any jar or packet foods. Everything we gave them was whole foods made at home and blended so they could eat it. We maintained this will all our children and they all seem to have maintained a varied range of foods that they will eat. They all love fruit, will eat most veggies and will eat lots of dairy, fish and meat.
We kept the kids off any sweet desert or chocolate or lollies for as long as we could.

Even now we don’t buy cordial or soft drinks and very rarely buy fruit juice. They drink water, milk and sometimes a cup of tea (that’s the Brit in me). They love milk shakes and smoothies and will usually order this if we go out for lunch.
Because they are not used to drinking anything with gas, they will usually not drink a coke or lemonade. Sometimes with a kids meal at a restaurant you get a free soda and I usually end up drinking them all.

Our eldest was kept away from lollies (sweeties if you in the UK). When she first ate a jelly snake she spat it out because she didn’t like the texture. The other two were not the same, they happily ate lollies when they managed to get them.

Now they are a little older they all love sweet foods as much as any other kid. We try to moderate it by not giving them sweet stuff all the time. They are actually better than I was as a kid and if there is a fruit platter on the table they will eat fruit before any cake or cookies.

I think the most important thing is to give them variety when they are young and developing their taste for food.

The other thing we try not to do now they are older is to use the “eat all your dinner or you don’t get desert” threat. We always give them a smallish dinner and they can ask for more when they have eaten it all. The other phrase we use is “do a good job”. This means try everything on your plate, don’t mess about at the table, be respectful about the food (don’t tell mum it’s disgusting).

All of our kids are on the skinny side but I think that is mostly genetics (Mum and dad we’re both bean poles growing up). They all have a healthy relationship with food and never really overeat. I hope this continues as they go through teenage years.

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Same in our house and this may well be the best advise you get on here.

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I think simo and strongmangoals have perfectly explained what my post is trying to say. They model the behaviour they want their kids to have. Mindful, balanced eating. Except for drinking all the sodas :wink:

Same in our house, eat at the table, no phone or TV, emphasis on trying new foods. I’ve just have to stop mine sweeping like simo.

lol. You know as a father you have to make sacrifices. Like eating all the leftovers in the kitchen when no one is looking !!:joy::joy:

All too well. I’ve picked up that even extended family will mention that I’ll eat the leftovers. Often after a roast my wife will mention how we’ll make sandwiches the next day from the chicken or beef. I sit there with nothing but shame and a full stomach knowing there’s no meat left. :joy:

I’ve realised I only model secretive eating. Damn.

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I don’t think I’m from a nation where eating in front of the TV is at all common :thinking:

Full concur, and my wife and I have made sure NOT to do this.

We get it too: our parents were raised by Great Depression era parents, which meant that you NEVER wasted food. But we’re growing up in the era of obesity: we have an abundance of food. Along with that, portion sizes are HUGE and everything is saturated with nutrition: there’s no reason to clean your plate these days.

My wife honestly came up with the smartest justification for throwing away food, and I highly encourage others to steal this and socialize it. She viewed throwing away food as throwing away money: she paid for that food, so she should eat it. But THEN, she realized that she would gladly pay MORE than the cost of the food in order to undo the damage of eating all that food (via training and nutrition coaching). In that regard, throwing away extra food is actually the SMARTER decision.

I never get on my kid’s case for wasting food. I DO try to make sure they get in some protein at meals though. If left to their own devices, they’ll eat nothing but carbs. I don’t blame them: I’d do it too if I could, haha. I’m not picky too: it can be a hotdog, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, etc, just something with some protein in it. MY job as the parent is the equip my kid with decent protein sources. I buy the GOOD hotdogs and chicken nuggets: the grassfed, kosher, organic, etc etc stuff.

My other job is to model good nutritional behavior. Growing up, my dad was (Hell, still is) my hero, and I wanted to be JUST like him. I wanted to eat an entire bag of chips out of the bag on the couch JUST like him. I wanted to eat fried egg sandwiches for lunch everyday JUST like him. I wanted to eat whole sleeves of Oreo knock-offs JUST like him. So, in turn, I don’t demonstrate behavior to my kid I don’t want them to repeat. I won’t eat on the couch in front of them: I don’t want them to develop that habit. They get to do it on occasion, but THAT is the “special treat”. I also don’t fetishize food in front of them. I enjoy a good meal, but don’t sensationalize it. I eat vegetables, drink lots of water, etc etc. I want them to see these habits and think that they’re normal and to copy it.

So now, they want to steal my protein bars. It could be worse, haha.

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This is SO huge. I had terrible eating habits as a kid, no doubt, but the BIGGEST contributor to being obese for me was Koolaid. It was my default beverage. My parents were awesome for teaching my independence, which included learning how to make it, but that was like giving a tweaker his own methlab. I sucked down SO much liquid sugar. My kid prefers water to everything else.

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It is funny how different kids from the same parents can be. I have a boy who would have only protein and fruit if you let him. A girl who loves veggies and isn’t bothered about meat and a girl who would eat potatoes and pasta all day.
The only thing they all love is fruit and milk.


This does make me stop and reflect on the fact that, as much as I say I’d eat nothing but carbs, that’s not true: I was a total meat eater as a kid. I DID like carbs with my meat, but I loved meat. Still have a weakness for cheeseburgers, haha.

Just you saying that word made me salivate !!


Great topic. I’ll chime in when I’m back from holiday. Typing a (long) reply on my phone is hard.

I never regulated my daughter. She got a lot of variety. Now at 13 she cooks full meals for us and works out every day on her own. But she has a nurse for a mother and grandmother and we tell her what happens when you make bad diet choices over the long run.


This was my wifes and my own attitude is with the boys,


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This reminds me of something else entirely. The difference it’ll have on a person being told that they’re good/talented/whatever (as part of their “identity” i.e. “you’re so good at sports”) rather than emphasising that their hard work and perseverance is what gets them anywhere. In my native tongue the way this is expressed it’s really colloquial to intertwine the identity and any achievement.

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