Do you need some suggestions for how to explain to your child why chocolate is a ‘sometimes’ food without labeling food as “good” or “bad”?
Explain Why We Eat
I suggest explaining the basics of why we eat to give some context. I.e. We need to eat a variety of food every day so we can give our body lots of nutrients. We also eat food for various other reasons including for pleasure, to celebrate occasions and cope with stress (although used as an ongoing first-line strategies emotional eating may not be helpful and cause more problems) and so on.
Explain What Are Nutrients
Nutrients in food help us to grow and be healthy.
Explain the Difference Between ‘Everyday’ vs ‘Sometimes’ Foods
If you are finding your kids ask for chocolate (insert any food here) every day, explain that there are 2 categories of food ‘everyday’ food and ‘sometimes’ food.
Food we need to eat ‘everyday’ foods, as the name suggests, we need to eat every day because our bodies need these nutrients from these types of foods every day. Everyday foods have lots of nutrients (ie. as per the food groups) and ‘sometimes’ food don’t have as many nutrients in comparison.
Chocolate falls into the ‘sometimes’ food category because it does not have as many nutrients to help us grow and be healthy and is not a food we need to maintain our physical health.
I encourage parents and carers to reinforce the message that kids can have chocolate, however, not usually everyday…….It is important to move away from language that describes food as “good”, “bad”, “healthy”, “unhealthy” and so on. Just because a food has more nutrient, it doesn’t mean it is “good” (insert positive term here). Foods with less nutrients are not “bad” (insert negative language here).
Explain That Food Helps Us to Feel Good
Our bodies feel better for not eating ‘sometimes’ foods every day.
Talk about how our bodies feel when we eat food and choose different foods and get your child to recall how they feel especially when they eat too little or too much of it.
Going into more detail about how to eat chocolate, you can explain that we eat chocolate when our mouth really feels like it. We don’t usually eat chocolate to fill our belly.
You might like to try a mindful eating exercise to help complement the conversation. Get your child to use all his senses (sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste) to experience food one bite at a time. With each bite, ask how the experience was, whether they are enjoying the experience and if they are satisfied from eating that bite of food. Repeat the exercise for as long as your child feels they have had enough.
At the End of the Day
Try and keep it simple and pick out bits from above that you think your kids would understand or would benefit from understanding.
It may be more useful to explain the above over a few days (or when you know your child will understand) rather than sit down and bombard them, especially if this is new to them too.
Food and nutrition is complex and this complexity isn’t helped by all the misinformation out in society.
Share your tips you’ve found helpful to explain that chocolate isn’t something that we can eat all the time.