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Food Does Not Equal Love

by Lori Sciame August 23rd, 2019 | Health Observance, Relationships
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heartsMoms and dads, please take this advice to heart: food does not equal love.  A candy bar given to a young child after a fall, or a banana split each day after school to celebrate another day of learning may seem harmless enough, but when food becomes a symbol of comfort and/or love to a child, then serious problems may occur.

Do you remember the stereotypical Italian mom who constantly begs her child to eat…anything and everything?  Pasta, sauce, bread, meatballs, sausage…she fills the child’s plate again and again.  Although this example seems extreme, sadly, many parents still adhere to the notion that more food, not matter what kind, is always better.

This can not be further from the truth.  Growing children need proper nutrition from fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins to stay healthy. They do not need the extra sugar found in soda, cakes, cookies, candy bars, and ice cream, and they  can certainly do without the fat from butter melted on popcorn or from over-processed fast food!

I admit, I made a mistake with food with my first child.  When he grew too old for a bottle at bed time, instead of focusing on healthy bed time rituals, such as a warm bath, I began giving him “night, night” snacks.  What harm could a few Cheerios do, I used to think.  Little did I know that his taste in snacks would soon turn to less nutritional options.  Believe me, it took quite a bit of work to break him of his nightly treat by the time he was three!  When my second child came along, I had grown wiser, and I placed the emphasis more on reading and away from snacking before sleep.

Of course, a treat now and again will not harm a child. A cookie on a special day, and, of course, birthday cakes, will always be appreciated; however, be careful not to always associate food with love.  This can be tricky, but it’s not impossible.

Keep the following tips in mind when giving food to a young child:

  1. Do not force a child to finish everything on his or her plate.
  2. Do not encourage emotional eating, such as eating when sad, when hurt, when lonely, or when bored.
  3. Do not scold a child for not liking a particular dish that you prepared. And never say, “You don’t love me if you don’t try that!”
  4. Do offer plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to a young child. As his or her palette changes, she will grow to like most of these highly nutritious foods.
  5. Do use reward systems that do not rely on sugary treats.  Think stickers or hugs for a job well done.
  6. Do speak to your pediatrician if concerned about your child’s diet.

If a parent takes this advice to heart, the chances of his or her child growing up healthy will be considerably higher. Children who do not associate food with love will be less likely to be obese, and they will most likely not suffer from as much tooth decay.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.