Talk the Talk: Food is Fuel

Kids love to know “why?” to all sorts of things. A recent one at my house was, “Mom, Why do you wear a bra?”

Sometimes I don’t know the best response, especially when my kids politely request marshmallows for dinner. When I decline to deliver the squishy treat, there is a quick rebuttal that includes first-class whining, “Whyyyyyyy not, Mom?!”

How do we talk to our kids about nutrition without sounding preachy or too technical? Does it need to be a battle of wills?

I have been working on how to dialogue with my children about nutrition. Since I began using these 2 Talking Points, there is less tension at meal times and my children have been making healthier choices on their own. Honest.

  • Talking Point #1: Food is Fuel
  • Talking Point #2: Listen to Your Body

Let’s start with #1: Food is Fuel.

Food has a lot of functions in our culture besides to simply fuel our bodies. We use food to gather socially. We use food to reward. We use food to comfort. This talking point is about teaching food’s most important and most basic function: FUEL. It will help you shine the spotlight on nutrient dense foods.

A few ideas to get you started:

  • Pick your kiddo’s most favorite machine or piece of equipment. Explain that their body is a like a plane, car, tractor, bulldozer, or train. It needs fuel to run well. If your children are older, use their dream car as the example.
  • While you are out walking, blading, or biking announce, “See! Your body is using the fuel you ate!”

I noticed this week that I rarely use the word “food” anymore. I use the word “fuel.” At breakfast I announce, “Let’s go fuel up for the day!” For snacks I say, “This kind of fuel will help you run and jump better.”

Is it corny? Definitely. But it works. It connects our food choices to how our body will work. I love it.

So how did I respond when my kids asked for Marshmallow Dinner Supreme?

“Let’s pick a better fuel that will help us later on our bike ride. How about black bean and spinach quesadillas?”

Stay tuned for Talking Point #2: Listen to Your Body