Teaching Children the Value of Healthy Eating HabitsBy Christine Steendahl
Healthful eating habits are usually formed long before kids start to select their own foods. Little ones adopt the eating habits of their parents. Parents and child care providers are the first role models that children encounter.
Little ones are awesome observers. When kids see what is going on in the kitchen, they can make a complete dialogue with their invisible friend on how to fry french fries or make a salad.
In several studies involving the eating patterns of kids, researchers found that their eating habits, including preferences for certain foods was traced back to the patterns and preferences of their parents.
As kids go from from bottles to bacon, they start developing eating habits that follow them throughout their lives. Healthful eating habits that are started at a very early age will follow them through adulthood.
Since it is documented that eating healthy can prevent serious illness, it is important that role models start giving a carrot stick or an apple for a fun treat rather than a sugar filled treat. Little ones eat what they see grown-ups eating.
Parents do not notice the major influence that they have over what their kids learn to eat. Following the eating habits of children, research has shown that the attitudes about food are almost as genetic as the color of their eyes. This fact puts a lot of stress on parents.
But understanding the far reaching implications of this study will result in healthier little ones and healthier parents.
Caregivers can relate to the fact that they relate both positive and negative memories with food. When kids are involved in fun activities, they tend to be snacking on junk food. The food offered at the park is all about hotdogs, ice cream and high sugar goodies.
The smell of Grandma's cookies baking in the oven might bring back feelings of love and security. While the smell of vegetables cooking might invoke a negative memory of having to clean the plate of vegetables before getting dessert.
Bribing a kid to eat nutritiously is a short term strategy that will almost always backfire. "These contingency strategies are effective in the short run; they elicit the correct response, says Dr. Fisher, Ph.D, assistant profession of Pediatrics at Baylor College of medicine. In a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Dr Fisher made a direct link to the eating patterns of children and their parents.
Dr. Fisher and her researchers made some fascinating discoveries surrounding the eating habits of kids. The little ones of parents who consumed lots of fruits and vegetables in turn had kids who also consumed the same kinds of foods. Alternatively, parents who only encouraged healthy eating but led an unhealthy eating lifestyle, had kids who consumed low intakes of fruits and vegetables.
Little ones will appreciate and react to the power of influence. Because nutritious eating habits are as important for parents as it for the children, the commitment to eating healthier will be easy.
The moral of the study is that if you want your kids to follow healthy eating habits, the general rule is you must set an example - don't just tell them.
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