Search Google Appliance


Passing Healthy Habits on to Grandchildren

November 22, 2016 by HealthyFamilies BC

The influence of grandparents on grandchildren’s relationships with food

Graduating from parent to grandparent is an exciting and proud experience. You are past the stresses that come with parenting young children and can start to create more casual, celebratory connections with grandkids. Your new role comes with great responsibility too – grandparents have a big influence on little ones.

Passing Knowledge to the Next Generation

Think back to your grandparents. What are your memories and what did you learn from them? Now think of your own skills. Are you a great cook, carpenter, fisherman, gardener, seamstress, painter, hiker, kayaker, artist, or crafter? These are your legacies; they are life skills you can pass to your grandchildren.

For many people, food and family are intimately connected. Modern families juggling busy schedules face a difficult task when it comes to preserving this connection. Grandparents can preserve the flavour of their family’s home-cooked culinary heritage by remembering, collecting, recording and passing down family recipes and their stories.

Is it Okay to Give Grandkids Treats?

How we show love is a key part of our beings and how we engage with others in this world. We show love through the ways we have been shown love. Sometimes grandparents give sweet treats to children because this is how love was shown to them. Plus children often ask for treats, meals out and candy so it’s tempting to indulge them. Keep in mind that giving children treats too often can lead them to eat too much unhealthy food. This can set up a pattern of “I’m good, so I deserve a sweet treat” type of thinking and also connect treat foods with love from you.

Foods advertised to children today are not foods that our great grandparents would recognize. Keep this quote from Michael Pollen in mind, “don’t eat anything your great grandmother would not recognize as food.”

What to do Instead

Although it may be tempting, try not to give food as a reward or to show love. This will help children learn that food is nourishment and that there are other ways to receive and show love to meet their emotional needs.

Here are ways to connect with your grandchildren that will nourish their minds and bodies:

  • Read together
  • Cook or bake delicious and healthy foods together, pass down family food traditions and recipes
  • Set off for a day of fishing
  • Go berry picking
  • Visit a park or playground, take a picnic lunch
  • Plan a beach day playing bocce or horse shoes
  • Get matching water bottles and fill them with healthy drinks
  • Go camping or hiking
  • Canoe or kayak
  • Go for a bike ride and stop at a cafe for a special beverage (try warm milk with chocolate sprinkles or cold, unsweetened iced tea)
  • Pack healthy snacks for outings (unsalted trail mix or cut-up fruits and veggies are good options)
  • Share your skills around art, crafts and gardening
  • Replace screen time with green time – go out in nature, plant a garden

Read more about creating nourishing relationships between Grandparents and Grandkids – click here.

Author’s Bio: Content in today’s post was written by Fiona Devereaux. Fiona is a Registered Dietitian with Island Health in Aboriginal Health. She is so grateful and honoured to be able to work on Coast Salish Territory.

Related blogs

Physical Activity From Grandchildren to Grandparents
Ideas for Healthy Food Traditions

Recommended resources

Island Health: Grandparents are Grand
Aging Well: Leaving a Legacy



HealthyFamilies BC Tools

Breastfeeding Buddy

Breastfeeding Buddy


Sodium Sense

Sodium Sense


Your Virtual Shopping Tour

Shopping Sense


How Much Sugar Are You Drinking?

Sugary Drink Sense