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You've probably already noticed that when you do something, your kids tend to say or do the very same thing. This is sometimes frustrating or embarrassing, sure, but when it comes to teaching your kids healthy eating habits, your role modeling can be a very powerful tool.
Tips to Try
Here are some quick tips role models should know:
- Eat Together! One of the best ways to teach healthy eating is to eat healthy meals and snacks together.
- Eat At Regular Times. Serving healthy meals and snacks at regular times goes a long way toward minimizing impulsive grabbing of less healthy snacks.
- Build Esteem. Show respect for yourself, your child and others, regardless of body size or shape.
- Listen Closely. Learn to listen to your own body's signals of hunger and fullness, and teach your kids to understand and listen to these signals as well.
- Make Choices. Involve children in grocery shopping and meal planning.
- Talk It Over. Discuss meal choices that your kids make when they eat away from home. For example, talk about different menu items' strengths and weaknesses.
- Be Fruitful. Keep healthy foods, like a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter, on hand and easy to get to.
- Reward Right. Find other treats rather than food to reward your kids for good behavior or their achievements.
- Do As I Do. Set a good example by eating healthy foods yourself.
- Mix It Up. Offer a variety of foods that are healthy and taste good.
Things to Avoid
Sometimes, the things parents say have a different effect than intended. Here are some things to avoid saying, in regard to food:
- "No dinner for you!" Withholding food as a punishment can cause fear of hunger and lead to overeating.
- "No second servings." This command can leave a child afraid that hunger won't be satisfied.
- "If you eat your vegetables, you can have dessert." Using sweets as a reward makes them more desirable than other foods and may lead to ignoring body signals of fullness.
- "Clean your plate." This command tells a child to ignore the body message of fullness.