How we talk about food matters

Posted January 10, 2020

Information from Public Health:

How we talk about food matters

How many times has your child heard “candy is bad for you”. Labelling foods as bad can cause children to feel guilt or shame after eating and enjoying these foods. Instead, help your child understand that all food can fit into a healthy eating pattern. There are foods we eat everyday at meals and snacks such as vegetables and fruit, whole grains and protein foods. Call these “growing foods”, foods that help children grow, learn and play. There are also “treat” or “play” foods. These foods have little nutritional value but are pleasurable to eat such as donuts, chips, candy, cake, cookies, French fries and sugar sweetened beverages. These foods we eat less often than growing foods. I like the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent or more of what we eat are growing foods and 20% or less are treat foods. Be aware that children who are forbidden from eating treat foods may overeat them when they get the opportunity.

You can help your child develop a healthy eating pattern by role modeling:

  • choosing, preparing and eating growing foods at meals and snacks everyday
  • enjoy treat or play foods at meals or snacks less often without guilt

For more information about a healthy eating pattern check out Canada’s Food Guide.


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