Parents Who Raise Healthy Eaters Never Use These 4 ‘Toxic' Phrases When Their Kids Are Young, Says Dietitian

kids to eat. According to parenting expert and dietitian Jennifer Anderson, there are certain phrases parents should never use when trying to get their kids to eat.

Parents Who Raise Healthy Eaters Never Use These 4 ‘Toxic' Phrases When Their Kids Are Young, Says Dietitian

It's not surprising that my 7-year old was a picky child when he was younger.

Healthy Foods

It is one of the main complaints that parents have.

As a registered dietitian, and the founder of

Kids Eat in Colour

I am here to help

Parents can create an environment that is inviting and pleasant for their children to learn new foods.

After years of observing children's eating habits, I have found that certain words can send them off track. Avoid these four phrases to help your child have a healthy relationship to food.

After eating your broccoli, you can enjoy a dessert.

If you give a child sweets in order to get them to eat broccoli, they will hear: "Broccoli is bad." It's bad enough that I need to pay you to eat broccoli.

Kids should have an unbiased view of food. Pitting foods against one another does not encourage them to choose healthy choices.

What to say instead

You can eat broccoli whenever you are ready.

It gives them the option to choose and is often more effective than bribery. Playing with food can help children engage in foods they may not like on their terms.

You can sing into your broccoli before eating it, for example. You can also encourage your child to interact with broccoli by using funny models.

  1. "If you're quiet, I'll give you a cookie."

Another phrase that elevates sweets to a pedestal. Sugary snacks will rise higher on the pedestal if they are used more often as rewards.

Your child may crave sweets over other foods. They may start to associate them with good feelings and rely on sweets whenever they feel down.

What to say instead

"We can play your favorite game tonight if you're quiet."

Enjoy cookies whenever your child wants to have them (rather than only at special occasions).

You have to take another bite before you say "no."

It basically means: "You cannot say 'no', no matter how you feel."

Force your child to eat can teach them to ignore their feelings of hunger or fullness. As they get older, they may have trouble saying "no".

What to say instead

We say "no thanks" when we don’t want to eat a certain food.

Teach your child to politely decline food instead of forcing them to take another bite.

It would make me very happy if you ate three more bites."

This phrase is often used by parents who are concerned that their children aren't getting enough nutrients.

It only teaches children that they need to develop healthy eating habits.

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When they should be focusing more on the benefits of nutritious foods,


What to say instead

Vitamin A in carrots is great for your eyesight and can help you see better!

Tell your child the benefits of healthy eating for their body. They will be more willing to try new foods if you give them some facts.

Jennifer Anderson

She is a registered Dietitian with a Master of Science in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. She founded the nonprofit organization, The Women's Health Foundation in 2019.

Kids Eat in Colour

Follow her on Twitter. Follow her on




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