Short answer? Yes. It’s fine (and great!) to teach children that food is fuel for our bodies and to guide them toward the choices that follow that mantra, but also…they’re kids, and you should also tell them that cake is delicious and it’s okay to enjoy those things in moderation.
And if your child is struggling to make good choices and is chubbier than his or her classmates?
Don’t. Say. Anything. About. Weight.
These are my personal feelings on the matter, but also, after reading through the responses to this Am I The A**hole post, the opinions of many women who wish they’d been raised in this manner.
The post is from a dad whose 9-year-old daughter has “a belly,” so he decided to start cutting back her calories and taking her to the gym 4x a week.
He thought she was fine with it (even though he admits she fussed about both changes), but when she broke down at a friends’ birthday party saying she couldn’t have candy or pizza or she’d get fat, her mother found out what had been going on.
So, his 9yo basically has an eating disorder but he maintains that he only had her best interests at heart.
The replies on Reddit, it should not surprise you to learn, were mostly telling this guy off for damaging his daughter’s self-esteem to the point that it could be decades before she can find her way back to a healthy relationship with diet and exercise.
Another girl, another eating disorder, another man who thinks he has the right to make her feel like she doesn’t look “right” and needs to change to please him.
Excuse me while I go rage.