Table Talk: Answering your questions about raising healthy kids! with Serene Allison & Pearl Barrett
preparing vegetables
How can I help my kids develop a healthy relationship with food?

atural conversations are the way to spark interest, understanding, and personal passion for wise, lifelong eating habits in your children. Is food just all about taste and getting full… or is it more? Igniting their curiosity about this “more” will be the key.

Kids cannot develop a lifelong, healthy relationship with food when its purpose is unknown. Conversations about what food really is, rather than just how it tastes or whether they like or dislike it, will begin to foster the healthiest relationship with food.

Heavy conversations that involve a “let’s sit down and talk seriously about junk food” approach may only turn the minds and hearts of your children away from the joy of healthy eating. Food conversations happen best as natural interactions. Driving to events, or while grocery shopping, or while preparing and eating meals are all opportune occasions. The Deuteronomy 11:19 Scripture that so many of us know and love about teaching our children applies here too. The NLT translation instructs us to teach our children about God’s ways like this:

“Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”
—Deuteronomy 11:19 NLT
Questions are fantastic conversation starters. We can ask our children—and ourselves for that matter—this question: “What is food?” Listen and acknowledge any answers your children give. Then take the opportunity to guide them into greater truth and understanding.

Rather than calling certain foods bad or junk, it is better for both our children and us to understand that food always has consequences. It can build bodies up or tear them down. Food is fuel, and that fuel has power. Our bodies run on it every second of our lives. Our last meal or snack affects our mood, our energy, our sleep, our growth, our ability to think properly, and even how the genes we are born with can be turned off or on.

jalapeno pepper
Food can mold a champion or bench an athlete. Certain sports-minded children may find it interesting to know that many sports professionals say their success begins in the kitchen. Our children need to be fully aware that the smart food habits they begin when they are young will catapult their physical and mental success to victory down the road. This doesn’t necessarily mean trophies or first place medals in athletics. It can just mean living a regular life feeling as good as a champion. It can mean having a clear mind, balanced emotions, and steady energy to make everyday life feel like a winning day.

Look for daily opportunities to guide your children into the knowledge that whole foods from the earth and healthy movement are essential for a happy and thriving life. Pulling carrots from the fridge and your children are in close proximity? Exclaim over their amazing orange color! Allowing children to see your own joy and awe at the health gifts God put into the foods he gave us overflows and ignites their own. Perhaps mention that that vivid color in carrots comes from beta-carotene which helps us see better, feel better, and fight diseases better. Ask if they know of any other foods that contain beta-carotene, then together you can discover and try more beta-carotene rich foods in delicious ways.

What begins as a discussion about the beautiful color of carrots may have your child sampling roasted sweet potatoes next. Perhaps they’ll want to help you toss them in coconut oil, then help decide what delicious seasonings such as mineral salt, black pepper, rosemary, and oregano might be added.

“Fostering a healthy relationship with food is all about children learning to take ownership. It’s about doing wise things for their own bodies! Talking to them, being an example, and letting them join you in the kitchen is key.”
It is a bit like that book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. One conversation always leads to another. Now that you’re pulling spices and seasonings out of the cupboard, you have even more opportunities to discuss God’s incredible foods and the healing powers inside them. You may want to discuss why you as a family use an unrefined kind of salt like pink Himalayan salt or gray sea salt in your home rather than regular white table salt. That pink color indicates the salt has not been refined. Does your child know what white salt means? It means almost all the minerals have been stripped away. Mineral salt contains 300 times more minerals than regular table salt. Depending upon the age of your kid, perhaps share that mineral salt contains a wonderful balance of potassium to sodium. When sodium is too high, this can alter important systems in the body like the blood pressure system. A lot of packaged foods contain refined salt and when people eat too much packaged food, their blood pressure may not function properly.
tomatoes still attached to the stem
Then talk about the spices. Does your child know that the rosemary and oregano you’re sprinkling on those sweet potatoes are superfoods like no others? They help turn misbehaving genes (the ones that cause disease) off and help turn well working genes (ones that fight disease) on. Herbs and spices are some of the most healthful foods you and your children can learn to use. And whenever you use black pepper with other herbs and spices, it gives them all more power!

There are many things you may be already doing in your home to help nurture the health of your family, but have you spoken about them in front of your children with genuine enthusiasm? Excitement is catchy. You don’t have to fake something you’re not feeling, but healthy foods can be truly exciting. Your children will pick up on your own ever-developing interest in them.

Perhaps discuss why the brown rice you are putting on their plate instead of white has far more minerals which help their strength and their digestive system stay toned rather than lazy.

Ask them to point out the healthy protein source in their meal. Then open a discussion about why protein is important at every meal. Do they know that it regulates their blood sugar, helps their brain know when they are full, builds their immune system to fight disease, and let’s them grow into the healthiest man or woman they can be? Through discussions like this, they can learn naturally that protein from good clean sources of meat, beans, lentils, and certain dairy products like Greek yogurt or cottage cheese do the opposite of what sugar-filled and processed packaged foods do. Those make for grumpy children (and grumpy adults) with roller-coaster moods and hijacked emotions. Helping them to understand that healthy food made yummy with creative ideas, along with fun forms of exercise, scientifically promote joy and feel-good hormones to surge through their bodies.

We want our children to learn early that they eat broccoli not just because they’re told to do it… they eat it because it helps them become happier and healthier. Through natural conversations at the grocery store or during meal prep, they can understand that the greener a veggie is, the more flavonoids it has. Flavonoids are like special Delta Force fighters for their body.

Fostering a healthy relationship with food is all about children learning to take ownership. It’s about doing wise things for their own bodies! Talking to them, being an example, and letting them join you in the kitchen is key. When your children discover that broccoli drizzled with butter or ghee, then sprinkled with mineral salt, is not only delicious, but also makes them smart, healthy and strong—they’ll be far less likely to fight you over it. In fact, they may even start suggesting more broccoli with their meals and telling you all about it!

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Serene Allison & Pearl Barrett

erene Allison & Pearl Barrett are sisters and busy mothers who were determined to ditch restrictive diet fads and embrace food freedom!

The Trim Healthy Mama Story. The THM story started with two sisters who wrote a book about food freedom for women and called it Trim Healthy Mama. It was a self-published book with no expectations, no advertising budget, and no celebrity endorsements. It became a movement as word caught on and friends shared their success “ON PLAN” with others. Trim Healthy Mama became a best-seller, inspired a viral community, and developed a food line. Now, millions have reclaimed their health and become “THM lifers.”