by GameChanger Strength & Nutrition Coach Rob Riccobono
You want the best for your kids. You try to provide them with the best life you can, and of course, you want them to be healthily. One of the biggest determinants of their health will be what they eat. So how can you get your kids to eat healthily? Here are some things you can do as a parent to shape their nutrition choices.
Be the Gate Keeper.
In a conversation with 800 medical professionals at the American Association of Diabetes Educators in 2005, PHD and Food Psychologist Brian Wansink estimated that most of the time, there is one person in the household (the “Gate Keeper”) who is responsible for about 72% of the food decisions of their children and spouse. This gives this person a tremendous amount of influence on what their children eat and drink. Become this Gate Keeper and take control over what comes into your house.
While you cannot literally control all of your children’s food decisions, you can certainly increase the likelihood of what they’ll eat for the majority of their meals.
Bring food into the house that comes mostly from the perimeter of the supermarket – produce, meat, eggs, dairy, potatoes, rice, beans, nuts, and other nutrient-dense, minimally processed canned and packaged foods like vegetables and oatmeal. For any treats that enter the house, put them in hard-to-see places like the very back or top of the cabinets.
Bring Variety To Your Family’s Meals
Having a greater variety of food will make a meal more enjoyable. This is regardless of how healthily, seasoned, or well-prepared the food is: variety will make it taste better. Make your kids new, healthily recipes that they haven’t tried before.
Expand their horizons beyond just the salty, fatty, sugary foods we easily crave and seek out. You don’t need superior cooking skills to simply cook new foods and make dishes with more options. Try different seasonings, assorted fruits, vegetables, and various fibrous carbohydrate sources (there are so many!).
This isn’t to say your son or daughter will fall head over heels for asparagus, broccoli, or green beans, but he or she might be more willing to have them with dinner if they are part of a varied rotation of other vegetables.
Set The Example
You no doubt try to set an example for your children when it comes to their work ethic, respect towards other, etc. Nutrition habits should be no different. A study of 854 Washington State children under three years old shows that a child is nearly THREE TIMES as likely to grow up obese if one of his parents is obese. If you’re overweight, your child has a 65-75% chance of growing up to be overweight!! (referenced in the book Mindless Eating, by Brian Wansink, Ph.D.)
Think about those numbers. If you found out your child had a 75% chance of doing anything negative that could affect his or her health and lifespan simply by your actions, wouldn’t you do your best to avoid it for yourself?? The amazing part of this statistic is that your body weight is something within your control. You have a specific and strong opportunity to affect your child’s health and longevity simply by how your approach your own.
Understand the gravity of this powerful message. Raising children and influencing their decisions is no easy task – you realize this every day as a parent. But the most powerful influence you have over them is your own actions. The best way for to improve your child’s health is to improve your own health first.