A study conducted by Michigan State University (MSU) stated that kids adopt the same eating habits as their parents. If a mother wants to inculcate healthy eating habits in her kids, she herself needs to adopt such habits. The study also revealed that instead of using force, punishments and rewards, parents should motivate their children to opt for healthy food options. The study’s focus was low-income families. This study has been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
MSU professor of food science and human nutrition, Sharon Hoerr said that mothers should stop putting restrictions on their kids’ food choices. It’d be better if they provide children a healthy food environment, persuade their children to eat healthy by adopting balanced eating habits themselves, and stop bringing unhealthy foods into the house. The result of the study revealed that mothers who encouraged their children, by setting an example for them, had children with healthier diets.
Sharon Hoerr further added that restricting children from consuming certain food items, which other family members are eating at the mealtimes, could result in kids adopting unhealthy eating practices.
Hoerr also gave some additional parental tips, such as maintaining a regular meal and snack times, teaching kids to eat in smaller portions and letting the children decide how much they will eat. Kids who stay out of the house most of the day and eat a lot of junk food, Hoerr said, should be encouraged to eat healthy rather than forcing and yelling at them to eat. To develop the interest of such kids in healthy eating, parents can take them along to the grocery store so that they themselves choose new foods to taste. Taking their help in preparing a dish is another good idea.
Hoerr wishes to continue her research on healthy eating in kids, and hopes to develop home-based and interactive educational materials for parents seeking to encourage their kids to eat healthy.