Do you know why I am asking?? Apparently you adults, especially you parents, are the most likely key to establishing that your kids become fruit and veggie "guzzlers for life." Now I especially take pleasure in this new research because I just wrote a whole book about this - before this particular study was even published!!! Fat Families Thin Families (BenBella books June 2008) offers a template to help families establish healthy habits for life that revolve around family teamwork - everyone pitching in with a voice and actions - as Mom and Dad model the behaviors and captain the family team. Why did I know this is so important??
Well the recent research bears out the reality that parents "control the food enviornments of their young children" - long before they go to restaurants and to school and out into the world, habits are being established on the homefront. So if you have issues with food, it is likely that they will; if you don't eat fruits and veggies routinely and offer them to kids at a young age - the research clearly shows that already by age 5 - these will be alien tastes and they will appear strange to kids and you will have, for sure, a battle on your hands. Studies show that you have a lot of influence over your kids habits and preferences - you are their heroes.
So if they see you loving salads and crunching on fruit, then they will be more likely to do it too. Kids also tend to eat off your plate when they are young. So wouldn't you want them stealing apple slices and jicama, and carrots and pepper slices??? Here's another good piece of news - if you shift your eating patterns, especially when they are young, they will more than likely shift theirs as well. The one caveat - the study showed the positive habit shifts in normal weight children, when their parents changed their habits as well. But if the children were already overweight - a sign that what I call "palate corruption" had occurred, and a signal that a diet of salty and sweet processed foods probably contributed to the weight problem - then kids did not embrace eating additional servings of fruits and veggies - even when their parents modeled the behavior.
The program highlighted in this particular study was called the High 5 for Kids Program and I applaud its efforts to get kids and parents incorporating more fruits and veggies into daily diets. We all need to realize that the welfare and longevity and quality of our kid's lives are at stake here - so if there is one pledge you make, as we move through the summer and on to the new school year - please, please examine your frig and your pantry and the manner in which you eat and the way you are introducing new foods to your kids. You have a chance to improve your own health and the health of your kids by deciding to learn more and change horrible habits into healthy habits - one habit change at a time.
Fat Families Thin Families is available at www.amazon.com and in local Barnes and Noble bookstores. I think it's a great resource for families, but any solid nutrition book that offers basic information and menu planning for the family can be a good start.
Published On: August 13, 2008