As school counselors, our work is centered around relationships. Relationships between students, families, and teachers make up the bulk of our work. While all of these relationships are incredibly valuable, we rarely talk about our relationship with food. The way we talk about food with children can influence their relationship with food for the rest of their lives.
Focusing on weight rather than health increases the likelihood of harmful eating habits in the future. The benefits of food are something we often overlook, when we are too busy daemonizing ourselves and others for the choices we make. Food is not inherently “good” or “bad”, but attaching labels to our food all too often makes it so. Challenge the food police in your head telling you that as a reward for eating the mushy broccoli you can indulge in a piece of chocolate cake. What if we served broccoli and chocolate cake on the same plate, giving them equal status?
The more students can engage with a variety of foods, the better. In the Fall, students from the Grade 7 Hands on Green Stuff class excitedly came to me with the onions they had just pulled out of the garden at AAS. They were holding the onions, and likely took them home with an eagerness to taste the vegetable they had grown. These weren’t simply onions, they were nutrient dense balls of Vitamin B6 and C (as well as many others), that have been linked with benefits for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure (Time, 2019). Having a variety of foods on your child’s plate, regardless of how frustrating it can be if they don’t eat it, allows them to experiment with new foods in the hopes that one day they will try it.
A 2014 Literature Review focused on the relationship between food and various health indicators (Public Health Nutr.. 2014) . Results found promising results relating to improved psychological health, weight maintenance, and improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The three principles of eating participants followers were:
Eating when hungry
Stopping eating when no longer hungry/full; and
No restrictions on types of food eaten unless for medical reasons
While this seems overly simple, give it a try. Be aware of the unique signals your body is giving you. Honour your internal cues. See how changing your relationship with food impacts your mental and physical health. Here are a few resources to get you started: