If you’re like most parents, you’re concerned with what habits your children are picking up, including those related to food and eating. You, as the parent, have a tremendous influence on your child’s attitudes about food and their eating habits, starting at a very early age. It’s not enough to simply encourage your children to take on healthy eating. The best thing you can do to foster healthy eating habits for you kids is to be a good role model. Children are like little sponges and are paying attention to and absorbing everything you do. They will pick up likes and dislikes, as well as your attitudes about food. Have you asked yourself what messages you are sending? 

We all have bad habits, and sometimes we do them without even realizing. Becoming aware of them is the first step in making positive changes. Some common habits that you don’t want to pass on to your children are: 
  • Snacking all day long
  • Eating in front of the Tv
  • Eating when bored/stressed/upset
  • Skipping breakfast
  • Consuming a lot of fast food or convenience foods
  • Drinking a lot of juice or pop
  • High intake of sugary snacks
  • Frequent dieting or preoccupation with weight or food
  • Negative comments about weight or self image
  • Eating dessert regularly
These habits can not only start your child on poor nutritional habits, but can encourage an unhealthy feeding relationship as well (link to healthy feeding relationship). It’s very important that your children see you practicing healthy habits in order for them to adopt healthy habits themselves. What you do is more important than what you say. 

Tips for being a healthy eating role model:
  • Eat and prepare foods with your children
  • Eat at the table as a family with no distractions
  • Provide and eat a variety of healthy foods
  • Avoid skipping meals
  • Moderate portion sizes
  • Try new foods, offer them to your children but don’t force them to try it
  • Limit high fat and high sugar foods in the home
  • Drink water and milk, limit juice and sodas
  • Focus on and talk about why healthy foods are good for you, rather than why “bad” foods are bad
  • Make an effort to make home-cooked meals
  • Be physically active
Making positive changes and adopting these habits is good for everyone in the family and will set your child up for lifelong healthy habits.

Janine Bolton

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