Kids pick healthy eating habits from parents
If lower-income mothers want their children to adopt healthy diets, it's best to take up healthy eating habits themselves and encourage their kids to eat good foods rather than use force, rewards or punishments, a new study has suggested. The study by Michigan State University also reveals that it's better to encourage children to eat good food
s rather than use force, rewards or punishments. The study is one of a few that focuses on the eating habits of families with low-income.
The results revealed that the mothers who led by example and persuaded, rather than ordered, their kids to eat their vegetables had kids with healthier diets, said Sharon Hoerr, MSU professor of food science and human nutrition. "Mothers should stop forcing or restricting their kids' eating," she said. "They'd be better off providing a healthy food environment, adopting balanced eating habits themselves and covertly controlling their children's diet quality by not bringing less healthy foods into the house," she said. She further added that openly restricting certain foods from a child when others are eating them at mealtimes can lead to unhealthy eating.
Additional parental tips include keeping up regular meal and snack times, offering smaller portions of healthy foods and allowing the children to decide how much they will eat. And what about kids who'd rather play around with their food or eat only junk food? "With picky eaters, it's best to coax and encourage them to eat rather than yell at them," Hoerr said. "Other ways to get them interested in having a balanced diet is to take them to the grocery store or garden, and help them select new foods to taste as well as allow them to help cook at home," he said. In continuing this research, Hoerr hopes to design home-based and interactive educational materials for parents who want to encourage healthful eating. This study has been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.