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Quinn on Nutrition: Be a role model for kids in your own eating habits

September 15, 2014

Yep, itís September. And now that school is starting, whatís the latest on how to encourage good eating habits in our young ones?

Be a good role model, say experts. Like it or not, parents are the most important influence in our childrenís lives. And even if we are not perfect, itís our responsibility to demonstrate healthy behaviors to our kids. Thatís how they learn.

Want to see how well you are doing? Here are some questions to ask yourself, adapted from nutrition experts at the National Dairy Council:

Do you regularly skip breakfast?

Do you drink sodas rather than water or milk with your meals?

Do you frequently go on diets to lose weight?

Do you indicate a fear of or frequently talk about "bad" food to your child?

Do you have frequent snacks throughout the day rather than regular meals?

Do you eat in front of the TV?

Do you eat when you are bored or under stress?

Be honest. If your answer to several of these questions is "yes," you are likely sending unhealthy nutrition messages to your child.

OK, so what can we do about it? Start, say experts, by realizing that we can encourage healthy behaviors in our kids by modeling healthful actions ourselves. Here are some ways we can start:

Eat meals at regular timesÖespecially breakfast.

Demonstrate to your child ó through your own actions ó what a moderate portion looks like. Example: I might choose to eat a couple slices of pizza with a large salad instead of a large pizza with a couple sprigs of salad.

Limit the amount of high sugar, high fat foods you bring into your home. Our goal: a light but not depriving food environment.

Focus on beverages such as water and milk instead of soda and fruit drinks.

Find ways to include your children in the preparation of food and meals. Again, thatís how they learn.

Teach kiddos to recognize a "balanced" meal ó one that includes at least three of the following nutrient groups: protein (fish, poultry, lean meats, nut butters, eggs), vegetables, fruit, whole grains or beans, and high calcium foods (low fat milk, yogurt, cheese or calcium fortified milk substitutes).

Serve desserts that add nutrients. Fruit and yogurt, for example.

Pack school lunches with your childís preferences as well as nutritional needs in mind. Add extra veggies to sandwiches. Use a variety of whole grain breads, crackers or "wraps." Vary protein sources such as deli meats, nut butters, hummus or other bean spreads, eggs, and cheese. Always include a fruit or a vegetable. Pack after-school snacks such as high protein cereal bars or trail mix, especially if your student has sports practice.

And donít forget, mom and dad, good habits are caught more than taught. Let the role modeling begin.

 

 





 



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