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How to Talk to Your Daughter About Food

Jun 18, 2020

Dr. Ashley Margeson, ND

Dr. Ashley Margeson, ND

NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR

I’ve come to realize that everyone has an opinion about this debate. People say, talk all the time, people say, don’t talk all the time. What I’m going to try to do in this very short article is to give you some common ways that you can help your daughter (and son) have both a healthy relationship with food, and her body. I’m talking about things like getting your daughter in the kitchen, teaching her how to use a knife properly, teaching her how to understand her hunger cues and … maybe lets just start with what hunger cues are. 

So, where do we start? With explaining that different foods have different things in them, and that our bodies require a little bit of lots of different nutrients every day to be able to study, to work, to have energy, to exercise and to age healthily. 

What are hunger cues?


Hunger cues are signals to our bodies that we need something to eat. Hunger cues can range from something like a growling stomach to feeling grumpy to feeling really tired, to having a headache. Most of the time, the growling stomach cue is the LAST one to appear. And, there’s also secondary hunger cues. These show up after we eat. If we eat a meal that’s well balance, we don’t tend to get them. But, if we eat a meal that too high in fat for our bodies, we’re likely to get really tired, and maybe even have diarrhea or looser stools the next day. If we eat a meal that has too many carbohydrates we tend to get hungry about 20 to 30 minutes later. This means, you didn’t eat enough protein, so you might want to get some of that later. Teaching our kids these hunger cues, can help them understand what it is their bodies want. 

What foods should we eat together?

In my office, I make it easy. Because it’s about the food, it’s about pairing things. So, you can have the bowl of kraft dinner, I don’t care… but I’d like it if you ate a salad with it. Have that snack, absoubtely. But, maybe it needs to have a protein to fill you up with it. Go for seconds, totally, but maybe pause first to give your hormones time to kick in to tell you if you’re full or hungry. Make sense?

So… foods that should be eaten together?

Something green. 

Some type of protein. 

Some type of healthy fat. 

And something with fibre. 

It doesn’t matter what it is, all that matters is that you have a balanced plate. Sure. It could look like chicken, broccoli, cheese and brown rice. But it could also look like pasta, kale chips, chick peas and some dressing. Not gonna lie, the second one isn’t as appetizing to me, but it works. And teaching kids that, is more important than saying this is a good food versus a bad food. 

How comfortable are your kids in the kitchen?

Do they know how to use a knife? Have they figured out how to slice an onion? Do they know that onions and garlic give food flavour? Can they peel an orange? Do they get to experience lots of different types of food? All of these questions are things you should start to think about. Lots of unhealthy relationships with food come from just not knowing what to choose once we leave home. So we choose convenience foods. Or we snack. And all of a sudden, body changes happen and we relate it to what we’re eating. But the issue is, we don’t have the tools to change it. 

Kids as young as 3 can be taught to use a knife. 5 and 6 year olds can start to make eggs. Teenagers can be responsible for one part of the meal (start with a salad), and then can graduate to cooking one meal a week. Life skills that also don’t end up having a poor relationship with food. 

I could talk about this for hours, so if you want to indulge me, I’ll happily talk your ear off. But, I hope you start to think about these things.. because your kids relationship with food can be amazing. 

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