mom 2 mom
All in the Family
rom the time our children are born we as parents are their greatest role models. Like sponges they absorb our actions, mimicking our behavior; including physical activity and diet. As parents this is our opportunity to shape how our children view food and positively influence their choices when it comes to nutrition. Kristy Davies, South Jersey mom of two agrees. “I think it starts at first bites. We (her and her husband) started together making our own baby food so they saw from an early age, food doesn’t come in plastic containers all the time,” she said. As parents how can we be an advocate for Family Nutrition in our homes as a daily lifestyle? Make healthy foods available to your children. Let you children be a part of the experience by taking them to the grocery store, letting them pick out healthy snacks including fruits and vegetables. Mother of two, Amy Petrie said, “I think the best thing we can do is include our children in meal making decisions and meal preparation Taking your kids grocery shopping and allowing them to pick out their fruits as snacks for the week is a really great way for children to feel included and empowered
6 | March 2017
By Lisa Figueiredo
about what they put into their bodies.” Educate your children on healthy meals and how food impacts their body. Talk about what they have learned about healthy foods and “sometimes” foods, as my five-year old calls them, and don’t limit them from their diets entirely. Let them eat cake on birthdays or special occasions. Experts also suggest not using foods as rewards or punishments. Model behavior that shows your child nutrition is important in your life. If your children, see you eating regular meals; snacking less or eating healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables, they are likely to want to do the same. Healthy Living Initiative Coordinator for Food Bank of South Jersey and mother for two boys, Tricia Yeo agrees. “I feel my boys are very fortunate to have had a mom as a nutritionist. They are very educated on good nutrition and it is something that just comes natural in our home.” Petrie echoes her sentiment. “Children look to their parents as examples of how to act, behave, treat others, and treat themselves. We have to be aware that they watch everything we do and will make those behaviors their own,” she said. Try eating more fruits and vegetables. We all know if there is food on your plate that
is likely what your toddler will want to eat, even if they aren’t hungry. After all most kids, at least in the early phases of childhood want to be like Mommy or Daddy. Why else would they enjoy play kitchens and food and playing doctor? Another way to inspire and incorporate healthy eating in your children is to get them involved in cooking. “People probably think I’m crazy,” says Davies, “seeing pictures of my two year old at the stove, but it is learning these things young and making it a lifestyle and habit,” she said. Making cooking and food fun is another way Yeo feels kids can get excited. “I teach cooking classes weekly to kids, and they all know about Iron Chef, Master Kitchen Kids, etc. The past few years there is more and more information about food in places where our kids are seeing it, online, social media, TV and school. If we can continue the conversation at home and make food fun.” Balanced nutrition starts and at home and can help to eliminate a host of problems medical problems in the future such as heart disease, Diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea. Proper nutrition and exercise for the entire family will promote good lifestyle all will benefit from.