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Friday, July 03 2015

We have all heard this saying, “we are what we eat.” But the truth of matter is we are what we eat and so are our children. Our young impressionable children follow in our footsteps. They eat what we feed them. Our diet is the same diet of our parents to a greater or lesser extent. It’s the culture we grew up in. The point here is what we feed our children can be beneficial or detrimental to them and their children.

According to research, understanding children’s eating attitudes and behavior is important in terms of children’s health. Evidence indicates that dietary habits acquired in childhood persist through to adulthood. (Kelder, 1994; Nicklas, 1995) It’s not just one parent who’s responsible but both parents set the pattern for the family’s lifestyle. If mom and dad are oatmeal-and-hit-the-gym types, their kids likely are, too. Likewise, if parents are more the chips-and-TV type, the kids will do the same. Parents expect their kids to do things, like exercise that they themselves don’t do. You can’t lie on the couch watching TV, snacking on potato chips, yet tell your child to go outside and get some exercise. It just doesn’t work that way.

Any parent can be a good role model for children’s nutrition. Even if you’re overweight and having trouble losing it, it’s still possible to role model a healthy lifestyle for your child. Try these tips at home:

  • Buy fruits and vegetables rather than snacks. Studies show that if parents emphasize how important these are in the diet, children will eat them more often – compared to parents who are more about relaxed it.
  • Pass along the basics of portion control. Kids also must learn to stop eating – what nutritionists call portion control. In our culture, we tend to lose sight of the feeling of fullness. The ‘clean your plate’ club overrides the natural cues a child has to stop eating when they are full. It prompts them to eat when there is no reason to eat.
  • Studies show that when parents make the effort be model good nutrition for their children, it really does work. One study focused on 114 overweight families, with kids aged 6-12 years old. Like their parents, the kids were overweight. As parents took measures to get into shape, so did their overweight kids. In fact, both parents and kids had similar positive results in weight loss over the five-year study period.

Additionally, much research also shows that many children’s diets in the Western world are unsatisfactory. For example, the Bogalsua Heart Study in the US showed that the majority of 10 year olds exceeded the American Heart Association dietary recommendations for total fat, saturated fat and dietary cholesterol.

With the evidence presented, what can be said about modeling good healthy eating habits and healthy lifestyle? That modeling was found to have a clear influence on how children both think and behave around food, with consistent associations found

between parent’s and children’s eating behaviors, as well as, attitudes. In sum, it goes to say, “We are what we eat and so are our children”.

Posted by: Aline Laing AT 02:45 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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    *Weight-loss results may vary. Always consult your physician before making any dietary changes or starting any nutrition, weight control or exercise program. Information regarding training and exercise on this site is of a general nature.

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