A University College London survey recently published by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association looked at how parents try to manage their children’s eating habits.
This study found that the tactics parents use to make their children eat a healthy, well-balanced diet are a reaction to the way their children eat, not the cause of their children’s habits of over-eating or picky eating.
While it is important for children to eat a variety of foods, putting children a on restrictive diet or pushing children to eat when they are not hungry may not be the most successful strategies.
Parents should focus on creating a lifetime of healthy eating habits, instead of making each meal a battle ground.
The American Dietetic Association recommends that parents expose their children to a variety of fruits and vegetables at a young age. They also suggest that distractions, like television, should be removed from eating areas so that children can focus on eating.
Through their website, www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov, the Centers for Disease Control also offers a few strategies to help parents encourage their children to try a variety of foods.
• Offer fruits and vegetables as snacks.
• Give your children ownership of what they eat by including them in meal planning and grocery shopping.
• Keep offering your children fruits and vegetables.
• Focus on making the texture, color and smell of new foods appealing.
• Use ingredients children already enjoy, like whole grain pasta, as a vehicle for new foods.
Parents who model healthy eating habits create kids who have healthy eating habits. It is vital for parents to eat their fruits and vegetables too, not only for their own health but also for the long-term health of their children.