Hey, Mom – trying to get your child to eat a healthier diet? We know children are impressionable and look up to their mothers, and a recent study out of Chicago confirms the idea that children do observe and behave like their mothers when it comes to food choices, physical activity level, and television watching.
Over 2,100 mothers were given questionnaires to analyze their own dietary habits, physical activity levels, and number of hours spent watching television. They then answered similar questions in regards to their children, aged 2 to 11 years. More specifically, the mothers were asked diet-related questions to determine how often they make unhealthy choices such as eating fast food. They also answered questions about their own physical fitness levels to find out how often they choose sedentary activities like watching television or playing video games. Subsequently, moms answered the same questions about their kids’ diet and activity levels. The researchers wanted to know, for example, how often their kids drink sugar-sweetened juice beverages and soda.
Researchers found that when mothers reported healthy habits for themselves, they were much more likely to report similarly healthy behaviors for their children. They concluded that mothers and their children often have similar dietary habits and lifestyle characteristics.
Need some tips on choosing healthier meal choices or family activities?
- Instead of sugary breakfast cereals, try oatmeal with low-fat or skim milk and sweeten it with dried cranberries and almonds.
- For dinner, try making a healthy homemade pizza together using a whole-grain crust, low-sodium sauce, low-fat mozzarella cheese, and loads of colorful veggies like broccoli, grape tomatoes, bell peppers, and zucchini.
- For an afternoon snack, forget the potato chips and instead try sliced raw veggies and black bean dip. Kids love finger foods they can dip!
- Involve kids in meal planning and preparation it’s not only fun, but they will be more likely to try something new if they helped make it, no matter how much “green stuff” is inside!
- To be more active as a family, turn off the TV and pay a game of tag at the park or take a walk after dinner.
Commit to making positive changes and your kids will follow your lead. Healthy children learn good habits from healthy moms!