Sleepovers are a right of passage of childhood. Remember the excitement of sleeping in your best friend’s room, sharing stories late into the night, and all that junk food?
Sleepovers can be challenging for any family trying to eat healthy. If your child struggles with overeating, she can find sleepovers stressful. If your child is generally a healthy eater and not used to unlimited junk food, you want her to have fun without getting a call at midnight that she has a stomachache from eating too many cookies.
Here’s how to help your child eat well on sleepovers!
You ultimately want to raise a child who makes good decisions about food; you won’t always be there to decide for her. Your job is to teach her that healthy eating sometimes includes treats; empower her to decide whether she wants treats and how much she wants to eat.
2. Motivate on her terms
Children don’t think about the future; their brains are wired to focus on the present. You won’t motivate your child or teen by talking about long-term consequences of an unhealthy diet, like diabetes or heart disease. She won’t understand or care.
Give examples of immediate consequences of her decisions. Try motivations like “Eating too much junk food all at once can make your stomach hurt. You won’t have fun at Molly’s house if your belly hurts and you can’t play” or “Remember you have soccer tomorrow. It’s ok to have some treats, but make sure to eat healthy food too and drink lots of water so your body will have lots of energy for your soccer game”.
Talk about what will happen at the sleepover. This can prepare your child to make good food decisions and in some cases, reduce anxiety. Talk about what they might be having for dinner; whether the family usually has dessert; do they have popcorn or other treats while watching a movie; and do the kids have unlimited access to snacks?
4. Present options
Arm your child with potential food options and how to make choices. Gently encourage her that it’s ok to say “no”.
“You love popcorn, but when you eat too much you feel sick. Why don’t you have one bowl of popcorn but don’t eat any more once you’ve finished one bowl?”
“Even if your friends are eating snacks all evening, remember that you don’t have to if you’re not hungry. It’s ok to tell them that you’ll have some later.”
“If they offer you ice cream for dessert after dinner, but you know you’ll be having cookies later while watching the movie, why don’t you say no to dessert?”
Sleepovers can be an exciting part of every child’s life, even in a family striving to eat healthy. Empower, motivate, visualize, and present options to help her make food choices she can feel good about!
If you are interested to learn more about how to achieve your health and fitness goals through food and nutrition, feel free to contact us today!