Children pick up on a parent’s attitude about food. What you say and do can influence them and set lifelong patterns they will follow.
Parents are role models for their children. As parents we try to monitor what we say and how we act in order to be a good example for them. With childhood obesity on the rise and many young girls suffering from poor body image and eating disorders, it’s more important than ever that we practise what we preach and model positive habits for our daughters.
Children can pick up a parent’s attitude about food. To give them a healthy start in life, what you do is as influential as what you say!
Read food labels
Watch the sugar and salt! Corn syrup, glucose and fructose should not be listed among the first three ingredients — these are ways sugar is often hidden in foods. Salt is often found in processed foods and snacks. Know the ingredients and limit unhealthy additives by cooking with fresh foods.
Break the treat habit
Sugary snacks and treats are fine once in a while, but make them a treat — if you don’t serve or allow them daily, the occasions when you do will make them special.
We live in a super-sized world. Over the last 20 years, the size for a “medium” soda has increased from 6.5 ounces to 20 ounces and has added an additional 200 calories. It’s no wonder our waistlines have expanded and more children have weight issues.
Eat meals together
Whenever possible, make it a family meal! It’s a proven fact that children eat more healthy fruits and vegetables when the family shares a meal together. The long-term effect is that your daughters will develop healthier eating habits and have less chance of developing an eating disorder if you eat together. Young females are more likely to drink milk — and get the nutrients needed for strong bones — when they see their mothers drinking milk too.
Introduce more food choices
Give new foods a chance! Try a variety of fresh produce and allow your daughter to participate in meal planning and preparation. It provides a learning opportunity and understanding of the composition of a balanced meal and helps her develop a better relationship with food; and together you can decide which new healthy options deserve to be added to your regular family menu.
Watch what you say
Don’t criticize your own body, and especially not in front of your children. Young girls are especially impressionable and if they hear you voicing concern about your weight, they are much more likely to be critical of their own bodies, too.
Don’t skip meals
Growing and developing children need nutritious meals to get them through their days — and so do their moms. If you skip breakfast, your daughter will model that bad habit. Lead by example and let your daughter see that you start your day well with yogurt, fruit, whole grains and other easy choices that give you energy.
Healthy eating habits don’t have to be a chore. Shopping, preparing and eating nutritious meals with your daughter will help her naturally develop good habits and a healthy attitude about food that will benefit her throughout her life.
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