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Teaching kids about nutrition and calories

One of the things I've started doing with Ava as she's getting a little older and understands more and more, is talking about "all the time food" and "sometimes food". Foods aren't good or bad; they are simply more or less nutritious, and more or less calorically dense for that nutrition. Avoiding the labels good and bad can go a long way in alleviating the food guilt a lot of us grow up to have. Our identity is not our food choices; we don't become better or worse people simply for those choices, but it is important to know how our bodies work and what types of fuel they need on a regular basis, and doing so can greatly improve our health, fitness and quality of life. With older kids and teens, helping them understand about calories and how they relate to our overall weight is a wonderful thing for them to know. Simply being aware of calories won't automatically set them up to be obsessed and have disordered eating, unless the culture of the family is unhealthy obsession with food intake and being skinny.

I had a conversation recently with one of my personal training clients who mentioned that she'd been mom-shamed recently for teaching her (all pre-teen and older) kids about calories and macronutrients. How absolutely ridiculous! We don't assume that kids will become obsessed with reading, writing or math simply because they learn those subjects. Learning the workings of and how to care for their physical body is hugely important for kids, and sets them up for success and taking responsibility for themselves.

A family who stays active together, plans, prepares, and eats healthy meals together when possible, and focuses on overall health and strength, is one that fosters long-term positive relationships with food and their own bodies for kids. Letting kids who are old enough to help plan and prepare meals often makes them more likely to eat those meals.

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