Parents influence children's eating habits

Be a good role model for your kids by eating healthy.

Parents are role models for their children in many regards. Children watch and imitate adults, looking to them to learn proper behavior for everything from saying please and thank you to learning about nutrition. As role models, parents need to assess their own eating habits so their children can learn to make healthy food and beverage choices. To do this, you can begin by taking a close look at your eating behaviors. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you skip breakfast?
  • Do you drink soda rather than milk with your meals?
  • Do you eat fruits and vegetables?
  • Do you snack all day long?
  • Do you eat in front of the TV?
  • Do you eat lots of high calorie, high fat snack foods and desserts?

If you answered "yes" to more than a few of these questions, you may be sending unhealthy messages to your child about food. If you are eating poorly or skipping meals your child is going to pick up on it. Helping kids develop healthy eating habits is a critical job for parents. Actions speak louder than words and it is not likely that spoken instructions will have much impact on your child's eating habits unless you practice what you preach. Here are a few healthy eating habits parents can role model for their children:

  • Use MyPlate as a guide to healthy eating for your family.
  • Never skip meals.
  • Try new foods yourself but don't force your children to try them. Encourage them to try a taste.
  • Turn the TV off while you are eating.
  • Enjoy family mealtime together as a family.
  • Drink water and milk instead of soda.
  • Limit “junk” (high calorie or high fat) food in the house
  • Add vegetables and fruits to meals and snacks.

Eating a variety of healthy foods will help your children develop great eating habits for life and will positively impact your health as well. Meals Matter has additional information to help you be a role model for good nutrition for your children. Remember, what you DO will make more of an impact than what you say.

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