Frequently Asked Questions
Healthy Eating Questions and Answers
My children are always busy with school and after-school activities. How can I encourage them to eat well on-the-go?
Now that my son is taking on more and more responsibility for his own food choices, how can I help encourage healthy choices?
- Keep your fridge and cupboards stocked with convenient and nutritious foods to eat at school or on-the-run.
- Enlist their help in making a grocery list of foods they enjoy eating for quick and easy breakfasts, lunches and snacks.
- Be sure to find time to sit down and enjoy a meal together regularly, despite your family's busy schedules.
I'm concerned that my daughter is avoiding certain foods and limiting her food intake. What can I do to encourage her to eat more of a balance?
- Be a positive role model by enjoying regular meals including a variety of foods from each food group in Canada's Food Guide.
- Encourage him to experience the pleasure of experimenting with new recipes and different foods to prepare family dinners.
- Offer a variety of nutritious foods to help him learn to plan his own breakfast, lunch or snacks.
I'm concerned about my daughter's eating habits lately. How do I know if she is developing an eating disorder and what can I do?
- Talk to her and find out why she is avoiding foods and limiting her food intake. Work with her to understand the underlying cause.
- Continue to offer her a wide variety of foods to choose from and try to help her identify nutritious alternatives that she will enjoy eating.
- Teach her that healthy eating patterns are determined by the sum of foods we eat over time and that healthy eating can help her feel good.
- Talk to a health professional if you think you might need some expert advice and support.
- Disordered eating habits such as restricting food and binging often begin in the preteen years and early adolescence and can develop gradually over time. Both girls and boys can develop disordered eating habits.
- If you notice a combination of some of these symptoms your child may have an eating disorder: eating tiny portions or nothing at all on a regular basis, an intense fear of being fat, great fluctuations in weight, eating in secret, large amounts of food disappearing quickly, disappearing after eating (often to washroom), and excessive exercising.
- Seek the help of an eating disorder specialist if you suspect an eating disorder. Talk to your child about your concern without being judgmental or challenging. She may deny a problem or not even be aware of it.
- For more information about eating disorders and related services refer to the National Eating Disorder Information Centre's overview on how to Give and Get Help
Active Living Questions and Answers
I know that physical activity is really important. How can I help make it a regular part of our every day family life?
I'm concerned that my daughter is not getting enough physical activity. How can I encourage her to participate in sports activities more often?
- Plan a fun family activity - one that everyone will enjoy participating in together at least once a week.
- Incorporate physical activity into holiday plans - biking, swimming, hiking, skiing, or canoeing.
- Hold birthday parties and family celebrations at your local park, skating rink, a water-park or bowling alley.
- Keep track of family fitness. People who record their physical fitness tend to become more active.
How can I encourage my son to enjoy physical activity without being overly concerned about winning?
- Help her find a good match. Different sports appeal to different children. Some prefer team sports like baseball, basketball and soccer while others prefer more individual sports like swimming, dance, cycling and rollerblading.
- Limit the amount of time she spends in front of the television, computer and playing video games to free up more time for daily physical activities.
- Give the gift of fitness. Choose gifts and rewards that encourage active play like a bike, roller blades, a kite or Frisbee, a hula-hoop, basketball, skipping rope or dance video.
- Be an active role model by making physical activity a regular part of your life and playing active games together.
- Emphasize fitness for the fun of it - be sure to encourage participation, not just performance.
- Show him that you're proud that he's participating no matter how he performs. Stand up and cheer! Don't be afraid to brag and let him hear. Take pictures of him being active and display them for everyone to see.
- Get involved and show support for his interests. Volunteer for after school programs, clubs and team sports that promote physical fitness with a focus on having fun.
Self-esteem Questions and Answers
My child is increasingly preoccupied with his appearance and I'm concerned about his lack of confidence. How can I boost his self-esteem?
I've never been very satisfied with my body. What can I do to encourage my child to have a more positive body image?
- Encourage him to focus on his abilities rather than on appearance.
- Emphasize things he likes about himself and things he is good at.
- Discuss how his peers affect how he feels about himself and identify constructive ways to deal with criticisms and negative comments.
- Teach him not to judge others on the basis of body size and shape or other physical attributes, and avoid perpetuating stereotypes and prejudices.
My daughter recently told me that she feels fat. How can I help her accept her body as she enters adolescence?
- Try to be aware of the messages you send about your body and the comments you make about other people's bodies.
- Enjoy the pleasure of healthy eating together and avoid referring to foods as good or bad - all foods can fit into healthy eating.
- Don't let your self-esteem be measured by your weight.
- Find fun ways to be active and experience the joy of physical activity together.
- Talk to her about how her body will naturally grow and change, especially during puberty.
- Help her recognize that healthy people come in a variety of shapes and sizes and that there is no one "ideal" body shape.
- Teach her to be aware of unrealistic and unhealthy images in the media.
- Celebrate her many unique qualities as well as other people's diversity.