Chances are probably high that when you were a kid you did not like to eat vegetables. You may even have had a parent who offered you rewards to finish your greens. Despite their best intentions you probably did not understand the health benefits of vegetables until later in life. You may even have some food experiences that have preceded you from trying a specific food even as an adult. Food experiences as a child are very likely to carry over into adulthood, which is why we need to be careful about the lengths we go to get our children to eat certain foods.
There is a fine line between trying to get a child to do the right thing and pushing them away. Force a child to eat a particular food, like broccoli, and they may hate broccoli for the rest of their life. A child may even take it one step further and refuse all greens. This is especially problematic for adults as the alternative to fruits and vegetables are usually processed foods and junk, which can lead to weight gain and Type 2 diabetes.
Putting pressure on children to eat foods they are not ready to tackle causes anxiety that can be with them for life and this can lead to poor eating habits. A child does not care why you are forcing them to eat their vegetables. They only know that they do not want to eat them. Sometimes, the harder you push, the more the child will pull away. We want our children to build a healthy relationship with food. Not run away from it.
Some of your food anxieties may come from being forced to eat different foods as a child or being punished if you did not eat all your food. The best way to overcome anxiety about a specific food is to think about the reasons why. If you hate vegetables, ask yourself what happened to make you feel that way. Maybe you were forced to eat a vegetable that was cooked in a way you did not care for. In that case, try preparing the vegetable in a different way. Be open to change and understand your feelings as a child has changed now you are an adult.
The goal should be to have a healthy relationship with food as well as with yourself. Your diet needs to include a wide variety of food that does not restrict or limit but instead requests you to be mindful and appreciative about what you put on your plate. Creating a healthy and relaxed relationship with food will help prevent …
- stress, or
- bad habits
that can cause chronic diseases. Remember the guilt of not eating a particular food can backfire on you and cause more harm than good. Make an honest attempt to try a variety of healthy foods and have enough confidence in yourself to relax when it does not go as planned.