Passing on healthy food habits to our children

Passing on healthy food habits to our children

I think one of the first things we have to admit in our recovery from morbid obesity following weight loss surgery is that we have not had a healthy relationship with food. It may not have been bad all the time, like any other relationship it has it’s high and low points but there would have certainly been some disordered behaviour in the past and we have to learn to overcome it. Weight loss surgery is a tool that helps us but in reality it isn’t even half the battle.

For some people bariatric surgery can just be a learning curve figuring out a new way to abuse food and get around the restrictions that surgery has created for them. The process of learning new, healthy food habits can be hard. This is why we need to be aware of these things and work mind-fully to change them so that we get the best outcome for ourselves long-term. If you have kids this is further compounded because once you’re aware of it you don’t want to pass on your less than perfect habits to them, but it can present a problem when they notice you eat a bit differently to them.

If you have a kid anything like mine is, they will be extremely observant and want everything to be the same for everyone all the time. He was under two when I had my surgery so didn’t really notice much then but as he’s got older he has noticed things and of course we talk about food at mealtimes and when he’s helping me to prepare food for us to eat. He’s coming home from preschool with some pearlers there too but we won’t go there!

The amount I eat is still quite a novelty for most people, it seems for others it never gets old (it does for me I tell ya), but my little guy is quite used to it now. He talks about how I have a small tummy and that I never finish my dinner which is mostly true. It doesn’t seem to affect the amount he eats though and I never pressure him to eat if he’s not interested. One thing that we will never do is the, “You must finish everything on your plate,” thing because I don’t want him to stop listening to the cues his body is giving him and I suspect it had a part to play in my disordered eating patterns.

I also try to stay away from food being attributed as being ‘good’ or ‘bad’. I don’t think it’s doing him a favour by categorising food in that way. He knows there are foods that have lots of nutrients and help nourish his body and that we eat these things frequently. Then there are things we don’t eat as often and are regarded as treats but I try not to use the words good or bad in relation to the things we eat.

Then there’s my general weirdness that he fully accepts. He knows that my tummy doesn’t like carrots (yes I’m intolerant/allergic to them, so weird I know) and then there’s perfectly good things like tomatoes that my tummy just won’t accept anymore. This doesn’t stop me introducing him to foods like this just because I can’t eat them. I also don’t eat many carbs now but since he’s growing and needs a bit of everything it’s important to not skew his world in terms of food just because I had to radically change mine to get on top of my obesity.

In our house we talk about how food makes you feel good, gives you energy to play, learn and grow and even though I can’t, I try to make sure he has a little bit of everything. I’m trying really hard not to pass any of my unhealthy habits or disordered thinking around food down to my son and it will always be a work in progress. The more we recognise these things the better equipped we are to deal with them. I really hope my weight loss surgery can help to break the cycle of obesity in my own family and there’s so much to consider when you’re trying to build healthy habits in children!

Are you on a mission as a parent to pass on healthy food habits to your children? Is this something you’ve thought about after bariatric surgery if you have kids in the house? Comment below and let me know I’d love to know what you think.

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There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Samantha at 10:26 am

    It’s so important to pass on healthy habits to your kids. People don’t always see it but passing on bad habits can range from extreme like drug and alcohol abuse to minor like not closing drawers properly. Kids are impressionable and need to be shown a healthy way of life even if you can’t follow it yourself for some reason.
    I’m so glad you’re teaching your little man to have a healthy attitude towards food. That will set him up so much better for the rest of his life than teaching him to count calories or avoid sugar altogether.

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