It is important for children to develop a healthy relationship with food early on in life, in order to avoid medical issues such as obesity, explains dietitian Abby Courtenay.
Courtenay says that there is an obesity crisis among both adults and children, adding that that 18% of children between the ages of 2 and 5 are obese.
Obesity and diet are influenced by a combination of genetics, physiological and psychological factors, according to Courtenay.
She explains that people have a genetic predisposition to particular tastes, such as salty or sweet.
A mother's diet, while pregnant and during breastfeeding, influences a child's taste preferences in adulthood.
At the same time, psychological influences such as family habits and eating behaviours can impact a child's views on food.
She explains that nutritional food should be the norm in households, cautioning against too many sweet foods and takeaways.
Courtenay says that parents should not use food as a reward, and recommends that parents use the plate model when planning meals to achieve a balanced diet.
In the plate model, half of the plate should be vegetables, one quarter of the plate lean proteins and the remaining quarter healthy starches.
If your plate is full of these different colours and flavours, the chances that you will feel deprived after having a meal like that are very small.— Abby Courtenay, dietitian
While different diets are suited for different people, Courtenay suggests that families eat more vegetables, and be aware of the kind of fats in their food.
My favourite saying is: If in doubt, eat more vegetables.— Abby Courtenay, dietitian
She says portion control should be less about regulating meal sizes, but more about eating enough of the right foods, and eating to one's fullness.
Listen to the full conversation from The Redi Tlhabi Show(with Eusebius Mckaiser):