Growth Mindset for Kids in Healthy Eating

Have you ever had the same experience as someone, yet when you heard them speak of it later, their perspective was totally different than yours?

We are each unique, not by what we do or what we have… but because of our differing perspective.

Diet is no different.

How we see our diet and our perspective of diet is reflected in the choices we make.

Imagine raising children that make healthy choices?

The best way is to that is to teach them a healthy food mindset.

What is a mindset?

Let me tell you where I learnt it from.


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    Carol Dweck in her game-changing book Mindset: Changing the Way you Think to Fulfil your Potential, introduced the world to mindsets.

    A mindset is a way we see life. This is why you and I could experience the same thing,  yet interpret the event in a completely different way.

    Carol broadly identifies two ways to see learning (after all healthy eating is learning).

    A fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

    A fixed mindset is when we think the ability is static. You are born with it and there is nothing you can do about it.

    “Your view of yourself can determine everything. If you believe that your qualities are unchangeable — the fixed mindset — you will want to prove yourself correct over and over rather than learning from your mistake” – Carol Dweck

    A growth mindset is when the ability can be developed. Through learning and effort you know you can grow, despite where you start from.

    Changing our beliefs can have a powerful impact. The growth mindset creates a powerful passion for learning.

    “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better?”  Carol Dweck

    I bet, as a parent the light has just come on in your brain. How mindsets relate to your child’s schoolwork or how you praise your toddler with their artwork.

    In Carol’s book Mindset, she has a chapter dictated to parents that I think every parent would get a lot out of.

     How is related to the food you may ask?

    How to Grow a Healthy Food Growth Mindset for Kids

    Teach your kids a growth mindset with food and you will teach them a healthy eating mindset.

    A healthy eating mindset starts with you and your beliefs about food, your perception about healthy eating and healthy foods.

    Kids learn more from what we do, than what we say.

    It took me 5 years before I realized that if I wanted my children to have a healthy eating mindset, I couldn’t hide in the cupboards gorging on my go-to sugar hit one minute and then tell them no to a cookie the next.

    I had to stop hiding.

    I had to admit I was not where I wanted to be for my kids.

    Owning where I was today, so I could grow tomorrow, was my first step.

    Teaching kids a healthy eating mindset starts with you. In Healthy Little Eaters the first 1/3 of the book is about how changing your mindset will set the stage for helping your kids grow into healthy, adventurous eaters.


    Want to parent kids to have a healthy eating mindset?

    There are four mindsets that if you grow into yourself… the way you then parent will change drastically. This will help set your kids up to a healthy eating mindset (while changing some of your afflictions along the way)

    4  Healthy Eating Growth Mindsets for Kids


    1. Healthy Eating Mindset is Effort, not Perfection

    Is diet all or nothing to you? Either you’re being good, or, you’re being bad? You’re either eating healthy or, you’re not?

    Black and white thinking, such as being good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, is the seed of a fixed mindset.

    If you are to teach your kids to have a healthy eating mindset it starts with the mindset that healthy eating is not about being perfect.

    It’s about effort.

    Making an effort each day.


    Healthy Eating is about effort. It may come as bad news to you, but those families who you think to eat healthily – put in the effort. There will never be a time when everything will fall into place and you will magically get more time to prepare, plan or bake healthy foods. You have to make this a priority and make a little effort day by day.

    The good news is, that when you put effort into making small changes after a while those small changes just becomes what you do. Spending 2 hours on a Sunday preparing healthy snacks… doesn’t feel like effort anymore.

    The quickest way to changing your mindset from perfection to effort is to think: how can I be healtheIER today? Or how can I make my kids diet healthIER today?


    As a parent, the effort is not only for your kids but also for you (to lead by example).

    For you re YOU: If you want to be healthier, what change can you make that you are 90% sure you can do?

    For example: if you drink juice, fizzy drinks – can you half the amount that you drink. Start there. Is that an effort that you can see yourself achieving?

    Secondly, you need to congratulate yourself when you do. Congratulating yourself by comparing yourself to you yesterday, not comparing myself to someone else, grows confidence and love for that action.

    Remembering to congratulation yourself will empower you to keep making an effort.

    Try it yourself.


    For example re YOUR KIDS: If you have lots of packet foods as snacks. Could you half that by spending 2 hours in the kitchen on a Sunday baking or preparing homemade snacks?  What small change can you make to your kid’s diet that may be more effort for you, is helping them to be healthIER? 

    Takeaway: Healthy eating is not all or nothing. Changing your mindset of healthy eating from perfection, eating healthy… to effort, eating healthIER.

    2. Fixed Mindset is seeded from Labels

    The chicken or the egg, what comes first?

    He doesn’t like vegetables

    She won’t eat tomatoes.

    She’s not a good eater.

    He only likes white foods.

    Kids prefer lollies.

    Every kid loves ice-cream.

    When I was growing up, we occasionally had ice-cream as dessert.

    I remember, mixing it with my spoon for so long that it became a runny, melted mess. I did this for two reasons – 1. to separate the hokey pokey bits out of the ice-cream. 2. my stomach always churned when I had ice-cream, I didn’t feel good eating it.

    But I was meant to like ice-cream and it was not until I got into my teenage years that I felt strong enough to say no to ice-cream. Going against the grain of what people expected me to like.

    When we put labels on our kids, this seeps into the way they see themselves. Labels teach kids that what they are today is unchangeable. It is who they are.

    To teach kids to have a healthy eating mindset, it starts with you as the parents teaching them that what they like, or they don’t like today is changeable. We grow. We change.

    To do this use words like ‘learning to’, ‘growing into’ or ‘challenging’.

    For example:

    He is learning to like vegetables.

    She is challenging herself to taste a tomato.

    She is growing into a healthy eater.

    He is learning to like all sorts of foods.

    Comparing these phrases to the ones above and you will see they change from labelling a child who then unconsciously develops an identity about themselves, to teaching kids that their experience with food today will not be the same as it is tomorrow.

    They are growing, learning and sometimes need to challenge themselves to eat healthier. This will become their new unconsciousness around food.

    Word choice around foods helps to instil a growth mindset, (healthy eating mindset) or a fixed mindset. Choose your words wisely and don’t put your kids in a box by labelling them.

    Takeaway: Change your words – Change kids’ mindset – Change what they choose to eat

    3. Taste is Trained Not Found Out

    I grew up not liking tomatoes. I thought that I would never like tomatoes. When I was 21, my sister had been introduced to tomatoes on marmite toast by her flatmate. When I visited her, she won’t let me use her toilet until I had tried it.

    I loved it. So much so, I  got in trouble for eating their last tomato. laughing

    Taste is often thought of as something set in stone.

    Kids don’t like vegetables, they don’t like lentil curries, they don’t like tofu … If this was true, then how come kids raised in India like lentil curries? How come kids in japan love tofu?

    They like it because those kids are exposed to these foods more frequently than the kids who do not like it.

    If you want your kids to like vegetables from Brussel sprouts to tomatoes… then expose them to it.

    Train their taste.

    Below are 10 ways to train your kids to taste without bribing or using sweeter foods as a reward.

    If you want to learn more about training taste, keep an eye out for next weeks blog.

    Takeaway: If your child doesn’t like a particular food… Try, try, try again.

    4. Growing a Growth Mindset… Mistakes will be made.

    “Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to the error that counts.” – Nikki Giovanni

    I used to think that if I made a mistake that made me less of a person. That I was bad in some way. The irony of that is I never learnt from my mistakes. I just felt guilty about the mistake I made.

    I unwittingly started to hand this mindset down to my children. When they overate sugar and went a little crazy, I would point it out like it was a bad thing. I am sure their interpretation was ‘I am bad’, or ‘eating ____ means I am being bad’.

    In reality, they had made a mistake. But I didn’t’ teach them how to respond to that mistake, except by making them feel guilty.

    Don’t make the mistakes I made. Or if you have… don’t feel guilty about it. Start to respond differently when your children make mistakes around food.


    When your child overeats either at a meal and they feel ‘stuffed’ or they overdo the sugar and they go a little crazy.

    When the storm has calmed.  (not in the moment of craziness – you will never get through)

    Sit with them and ask them about it.
    Encouraging them to make their own connections through your open-ended questions to what they ate and how they felt.

    This is what I refer to as Checking-in in Healthy Little Eaters.  Checking-in is a growth mindset that teaches kids to self-regulate through creating in-built mindfulness around food.

    Raising kids with an awareness of how food makes them feel, is a gift I wish every kis grows up with. This awareness starts with seeing mistakes, such as eating too much sugar, or overeating because they are distracted, as the path to food-awareness. Rather than something to berate.


    Takeaway: Use mistakes, such as overeating or unhealthy eating as the pathway to self-awareness around food.

    Want to raise an Adventurous Eaters?

    Get 10 bite-sized easy to digest emails and discover the foundations to Adventurous Eaters.

      Growing a Healthy Food Mindset in Children Overview

      A healthy food mindset is seeded in knowing healthy eating is

      • about effort, not perfection
      • not labelling kids as a bad eater or not liking vegetables
      • about taste buds in training
      • make the most of mistakes

      Raising a child who has a healthy food mindset starts with the messages that you give them.

      A healthy eating mindset starts with you and your beliefs about food, your perception about healthy eating and healthy foods.

      Developing a taste for healthy food and healthy food habits come about from a process. Something that requires a little effort each day.

      Instil a healthy eating mindset by teaching your kids a growth mindset to diet.

      Growing children to have a healthy food mindset will be their unconsciousness food setpoint that they will take with them on the path of life.

      Imagine what they can achieve, what they can add to the world if they are healthy, vibrant adults.

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