Fit Mom: Parents strongly influence kids’ food choices

Getting kids to eat healthily is often a challenge. It’s one I struggle with all the time. I pack healthy


Getting kids to eat healthily is often a challenge. It’s one I struggle with all the time. I pack healthy lunches and cook good meals for them when I’m home, but I know from finding the empty boxes of pre-packaged snacks in my pantry after I get home from work that they spend a lot of their snack time eating total junk. We do have tons of fruit at home and I’m always pushing it’but if I’m not there they choose the easy stuff that doesn’t need washing or peeling.

My youngest son, Finley, loves to eat healthy food, from fresh mango to sushi to tilapia, but I worry his older brothers will eventually wear him down and take him to the dark side of nutrition. So I constantly praise his adventurous eating. I hope that that makes a difference and keeps him on the straight and narrow’and it turns out it might.

Recent research released by the registered dietitians at Dairy Farmers of Canada reveals kids, specifically pre-teens, are concerned about nutrition and healthy eating, and they care about what their parents do and say when it comes to healthy eating. Here are some highlights from the study, which involved 16 focus groups and an online survey of 500 children:

  • 89 percent of kids agree their parents are their most important role models for healthy eating.
  • 82 percent of kids want to learn how to cook in school.
  • 80 percent of kids want to know about the benefits of healthy eating and not just what they should not be eating.
  • Three out of four children agree that if their parents had healthy food in the house, they would eat it.
  • So, what can we do to help ensure our kids have healthy eating habits? ‘I see role-modeling as being the key,’ Judy Sheeska, a PhD and registered dietitian at the University of Guelph says in a press release. ‘Parents need to model healthy eating and teachers need to ensure they are not giving mixed-messages by teaching healthy eating and then modeling poor habits. It’s important for adults to realize’kids are watching!’

    Other suggestions include:

    • ‘ Talk to your kids about nutrition. Ask them if they have questions about healthy eating. You can also access kid-friendly information at as well as some healthy recipes.
    • ‘ Assess your own eating habits. Are you setting a good example? If not, do a makeover on your own food and drink choices.
    • ‘ Make healthy eating easy. Children surveyed said they want snacks that are ready to go, for example hummus and cut up veggies, yogurt and cut-up fruit, cheese and crackers or hard-boiled eggs and 100% juice.
    • ‘ Let kids help with meal planning and prep. Get your kids involved in shopping, deciding on the menu for the week and cooking.

    How do you influence your kids’ eating habits?

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