• 59°

Healthy eating starts with healthy adult role models

By Karen Fallon, MPH, RD, LD.

Babies start picking up cues from their parents almost immediately; smiling when they smile and making similar noises. Young children, too, mimic their caregivers, repeating what they say and imitating actions. So it’s no surprise that children can also pick up their parents’ attitudes about food. 

Studies show that family mealtimes have a big effect on a child’s eating habits as they grow up and start making food choices of their own. Children who eat meals with their parents tend to make healthier choices overall than children who don’t have the opportunity for family meals. 

While it’s not realistic to expect any parent to be a perfect role model all the time, demonstrating good eating habits frequently will set a good example for your children. 

Here are some simple steps to encourage healthy eating in your children:

For a start, include them in choosing healthier foods at the store and when trying new or different fruits and vegetables. Encourage kids to help at mealtime and allow them to be involved in the healthier choices you are trying to make both at meal and snack times.  Substitute water for soda and don’t skip meals – especially breakfast. Finally, talk to your kids about fun ways your whole family can be more physically active and cut back on the amount of screen time for everyone. 

Just remember – your actions and behaviors influence your children more than you think. If you eat right, move more, and limit your screen time, your kids will, too!  

For more information visit www.jessaminehealth.org.