How Josh Peck manages food and body conversations with his kids

Josh Peck preaches balance with food and movement during the holidays. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos; Getty Images)
Josh Peck preaches balance with food and movement during the holidays. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos; Getty Images)
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It Figures is Yahoo Life's body image series, delving into the journeys of influential and inspiring figures as they explore what body confidence, body neutrality and self-love mean to them.

At 15, Josh Peck weighed nearly 300 pounds and starred on Nickelodeon's Drake & Josh. Now, more than two decades later, he's still acting but also podcasting and, most importantly, a parent. As a father of two, Peck, who underwent a weight loss transformation, aims to make both food and bodies a neutral topic of conversation in his home, especially during the holiday season.

"So much of our culture is based around food, whether it's a celebration, or it's just a normal everyday sort of lunch or dinner. I think my wife and I have really tried to not make too much out of food and eating and mealtimes," he tells Yahoo Life.

The 37-year-old acknowledges that there are various "challenges" that come up during the holidays as Americans are known to experience increased stress levels. After developing an emotional dependence on food during his own childhood, he and his partner Paige O'Brien are set on not allowing family meals to be a source of that anxiety.

"What we try to do is keep mealtime fun and keep it interesting, understanding that kids go through different waves of being open to trying new things and not trying things, that maybe they'll be hungrier at some times than others," he says of sons Max, 4, and Shai, 1, "We can support our kids to have a variety of meals knowing that what we want for them is eating a balanced diet."

He knows that his role in creating that balance is as imperative as participating in it himself, which is why he's joined forces with Jimmy Dean for the brand's latest holiday campaign focused on hosting the best holiday party. "[The kids] need to see an example of that through my wife and I. So what's important is setting them up to win by giving them a good example of hopefully what are good and healthy options for them throughout their life."

Still, Peck has some of his own learned behaviors to overcome.

He explains that he continues to work toward "acceptance" when it comes to his body and to show himself grace through holiday indulgence. "I match it with staying active and running around after my kids," he says. Even with movement, the messaging is never centered on punishment or changes to a body's appearance.

"It's important that they fell in love with moving their body and all the wonderful things that sports and activity can afford you," says Peck. "There are so many benefits to being active, be it, you know, getting that serotonin and dopamine and stress relief. It's about an overall idea of wellness and feeling your best; not just a specific vanity thing."

Most importantly, he reminds himself and his children that it's "a lifelong pursuit," so that they're never tempted to overdo it. "How do you set yourself up to have really good quality of life well into your 70s, 80s and 90s? Ideally, it starts with what you do as a young person," he says.

And for him right now, embracing his quality of life means not participating in his wife's family's Thanksgiving football game.

"There will be guys spraining their ankles and scraping their knees playing. I'm like, 'Babe, it's the turkey bowl. Like you're not getting the Heisman here,'" he jokes. "So I don't participate. I'm on bagel duty. I'm just doing schmears, crushing bagels and rooting people on."