Avoiding the Food Police Role
Autonomous control of when, how much, and what we choose to eat is something that is closely identified with our sense of independence from birth. An infant that wants to eat will make his needs known, loudly, and when fed he will eat until he is full. When solid foods start to be fed, a baby that doesn't like mashed turnips or chicken sticks will make his displeasure known instantly by ejecting them back at whoever sent them his way. Self-regulation of food intake is important for a child's sense of self-esteem, his independence, and for learning lifelong habits of healthy eating.
Remember, you are not the food police. Your job is to facilitate a healthy level of self-regulation, not to control every bite that goes into your child's mouth. Be a gatekeeper, providing healthy foods and educating your child on nutrition and fitness so he can make good decisions outside of the home. You can't be with your child around the clock, every day of the week, and even if you are now, you won't be forever. He needs input and control over his own fitness plan, so try your best to take a step back and let him steer the ship.
If you see him eating something he shouldn't, don't interrogate or nag. Think about how the scene has unfolded and what you can do to prevent it from happening again. First of all, is it a food item that you have around the house but shouldn't? Have you provided other appropriate and tasty options that he could have chosen from instead? When your child seems to be eating inappropriately because he had a particularly bad day at school or is feeling down, encourage him to talk about the problem instead of finding comfort in food. Let him know you are there for support so the next time he can run to you instead of the refrigerator.