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Helping Kids Have a Healthy Relationship with Food


Humans are essentially born with the ability to know we need to eat when we're hungry and stop when we've had enough. But as we grow, we develop various behaviors around what, when and how much we eat. Each of us approaches how we eat in our own way but we also influence those around us, especially our kids.

It's important to think about the habits we as parents, grandparents, and caregivers have and how we portray those habits to kids.

Nutrition: How to create a healthy relationship with food for your children

This article from the Los Angeles Daily News talks about how to help kids develop a healthy relationship with food and includes advice such as not using food as a reward and not talking about dieting in front of kids. There are positive tips too, such as eating meals together, exploring foods and letting kids feel they have a sense of control over the foods they eat.

Avoiding Words Like "Too Much Sugar"

Continuing with the theme of developing a healthy relationship with food, it's interesting to think about how our well-intentioned statements about certain foods being unhealthy may trigger a bit of a backlash when kids see sweets as 'forbidden fruit.'

Clearly, most of us realize that eating too much sugary and various not-so-nutritious foods isn't good for the body, but maybe we need to make a little room for sweets and treats. Read on and see what you think:

Speaking of Sweets: Experts Warn Against Using the Phrase 'Too Much Sugar'

This article in the U.S. News and World Report talks about what happens when we label foods as either all good or all bad. Thea author of the article, a dietitian, shares thoughts from other dietitians and eating disorder specialists about what can happen as a result. Labeling foods as bad may lead to kids wanting more of them and that can lead to imbalanced dietary choices.

Early Childhood Trauma May Increase Risk of Obesity in Teens

Teenagers who experienced adverse childhood experiences such as verbal or physical abuse, have a parent in prison or a parent who is addicted to drugs or alcohol appear to be at a greater risk of being overweight or obese.

Trauma in early childhood boosts the risk of teen obesity, study says

This news story published in the Philadelphia Inquirer describes the study that was done at the University of Minnesota School. The researchers talked to over 100,000 8th, 9th, and 11th graders in Minnesota and compared their experiences with body weight.


They found that kids who had experienced trauma as younger kids were a little more likely to be overweight or obese and the more experiences with trauma they had, the greater the risk. The authors of the study suggest that more screening to identify or prevent childhood trauma could be beneficial.

Bullying, Depression and Suicide Risk

Adolescents who were bullied severely by other kids during childhood may be more likely to have depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide. Since a lot of bullying can occur at school, it's something for teachers and administrators to understand.

Childhood bullying linked to suicide risk for teens

This Reuters Health news story talks about a study that finds teens who endured severe bullying before they were 13 years old were twice as likely to be depressed and three times more likely to think about suicide compared to kids were weren't bullied.


What can parents and teachers do?
• Ask kids about bullying and if they are being bullied, let them know they're not alone.
• Build self confidence in the kids who are being bullied.
• Use interventions at school so bullying doesn't become routine.

Parents May Not Know About Teens' Thoughts of Suicide

Suicide is a leading cause of death in teens in the U.S. and the rates have been rising. A re-cent study looks at whether or not parents are able to determine if their kids are at a risk of committing suicide.

Parents often don't know when teens have suicidal thoughts

Another Reuters Health news story describes the study that involved over 5,000 teens along with one parent. While most kids didn't have suicidal thoughts, of those who did, only about half realized their kids had these thoughts and even fewer knew when these thoughts were occurring.


The findings of this study highlight the importance of open communication between par-ents and kids, as well as knowing the signs - sadness, lost of interest in things and social withdrawal.

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    About the author
    Shereen Lehman
    Shereen Lehman is a health and nutrition writer with two decades of experience counseling people on nutrition and diet. She has a master's degree in human nutrition and is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Association of Health Care Journalists.
    Shereen writes about nutrition for the large website verywell.com and she, is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies and Clinical Anatomy for Dummies.
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