The old maxim "Do as I say, not as I do" just doesn't work when it comes to teaching your children healthy eating habits.
A growing body of research shows that the bad food habits of parents may play a role in obesity in their children.
The latest government figures show that one in 10 American children are overweight or obese-and the number of overweight children has doubled in the last 15 years! To make matters worse, risk factors for chronic adult conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, gallbladder disease, arthritis and obesity are already set by the time a child reaches adolescence.
Get your kids off to the right start in life by adopting healthy food habits in your household. And don't forget to practice what you preach.
* Stock up on healthy snacks. Health and nutrition experts say moderate snacking is fine, since children need more calories to meet their energy needs than three meals a day provide. But make sure your child isn't just filling up on empty calories. To satisfy those between-meal cravings the healthy way, keep plenty of fruits and raw vegetables, yogurt, cereal, cheese and crackers on hand.
* Don't overload your child's plate. Overeating is one of the leading causes of weight gain. Instead of loading your child's plate, serve smaller, child-sized portions. If your child is still hungry, then offer seconds.
* Let your child shadow you. Take your children grocery shopping and have them select nutritional items from the list. Let them help you in the kitchen so they can watch how you prepare food. Your child will adopt good cooking and eating habits that can last a lifetime just by imitating your example.
* Eat breakfast. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, since it gives our bodies the energy and nutrients we need to face the day. Make sure you and your children start the day right with a well-balanced meal.
* Don't force food on children. Experts say if children aren't pressured to eat food they dislike, they'll eventually learn to enjoy a wide palette of nutritious foods. Introduce a new food with your child's favorite food, and only introduce one new item at a time.
* Make mealtime pleasant. If children associate food with stressful or unpleasant situations, it may affect their current and future eating habits and may set the stage for eating disorders, experts say. Save discipline for another time.
* Don't restrict food either. An occasional junk-food indulgence won't hurt your child, and it will curb the need to sneak or binge on off-limit food.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Johnson Publishing Co.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group