How can I help my child to have a healthy relationship with food?

Children need food to grow and develop. Making healthy choices at an early age helps children learn to make good decisions when they are older.

It can be hard to know what’s right and wrong when it comes to encouraging healthy relationships with food. Especially if you’re a bit unsure yourself or if your child is a fussy eater.

Father and son cooking

Create healthy habits

  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle rather than quick fixes. The NHS Live Well website has lots of simple advice about eating healthily and moving more.
  • Try not to use food as rewards or punishments as this might build unhealthy relationships with food in the future.
  • Remember that it’s not possible for every meal to be the “perfect healthy meal”. Allowing less healthy choices every now and then prevents these foods being seen as treats.
  • Talk about a healthy balance and making healthy choices rather than good or bad foods.
  • Sit down as a family to eat so that your children see you eating the same as them and creating a positive eating environment.
  • Teach the difference between hungry and full. If your child doesn’t want to finish their food, don’t force them to empty their plate.
  • Get children involved in shopping, preparing and meal planning.

Lead by example

  • Lots of adults have difficult relationships with food. If this is you, try and be aware of it in front of your children.
  • The things you say matter, but what your children see you doing matters more.
  • If you’re not making great choices when it comes to food, your children are unlikely to either.
  • If you’re restricting certain foods, your children might learn to do the same.
Go back

Tips for when your child is a fussy eater 


How do I check the fat, salt and sugar content in the food I buy?


Common weaning worries


How to talk to your child about difficult topics


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