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Food experts say that what parents say and do is just as important as what they put on their kid's plate.

There are many examples of parents preaching on the importance of breakfast and them miss breakfasts themselves or forbidding chips and candies but elevating the forbidden food to tempting levels. Others make another mistake and resort to rules and offhand dinner comments that turn food into rewards and punishments.

What is important for parents to realize is that they shouldn’t be sending mixed signals to their children while shaping their eating habits and attitudes about food.

Raising kids with healthy attitudes towards food will ultimately lead to older kids and adults that choose to eat in a healthy way.

Teaching children good eating habits will prevent them from developing eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia that can develop in children as young as kindergarten. Aaccording to the National Eating Disorders Association, nearly 10 million women and one million men in the United States suffer from such eating disorders with the peak during puberty and the late teen-early adult years.

These figures do not end here. Health experts warn that many more suffer from obsessions with body image and dieting that start at an absurdly young age. At about 30% of the 10-year-old girls reported trying to lose weight.

Nutritionists further warn that parents should not force children to eat everything on their plate as they are not allowing their kids to discover their own limits. Children should realize their own fullness and what it feels like to overeat.

Parents should put a mix of foods on the childen’s plates like cheese, fruit, nuts and doughnuts and teach them that everything can be eaten in moderation.

The nutritionists agree on the advice for parents when it comes to proper attitudes toward foods.

**Be a good role model and practice what you preach. Eat the way you want your children to eat. Choose a variety of healthy foods from all the food groups, eat in moderation and make exercise part of your regular routine.

**Don't ban foods as your children will encounter cakes and other treats at parties. They should explore but should also be thought what their bodies need. The goal is to enjoy a varied healthy diet most of the time, which allows for indulgences now and then as you can’t eat right all the time.

**Get your children involved in the kitchen. Teach them to use herbs with safe scissors, cracking eggs, and stirring. When they're part of the process, they're more likely to try the finished product.

**Pair old with new. Many children are reluctant to trying new foods. To widen thier palate, pair a favorite food like chicken strips with a new flavor.


I would consider fresh fruits, cooked or fresh vegetables, and nuts as healthy foods. However, canned fruits are often loaded with sugars. While whole cheese is high in quality proteins, it is also high in saturated fat. Perhaps fat-free or low-fat cheese may be a better alternative. It is somewhat difficult for me to see doughnuts as healthy food as it is loaded with shortening which is high in trans fats. I can now see why it is often so difficult for people to lose their body fat. I do agree that children should be exposed to a variety of foods (healthy or otherwise) and be educated on their nutritional values.


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Licensed Dietitian
588 posts
Hi Hoseclamps,

I believe that the story said that children should be introduced to both types of foods, healthy and those less healthy (including fruits and doughnuts) but teach them to eat in moderation. If we ban them unhealthy foods, they will run into them in supermarkets, at their friends' and may eat even more than necessary just because they are deprived of those "so tempting" foods at home.

But if we give them these foods at home and teach them what is right and what is wrong but that some indulgence once in a while was ok, this way may the children learn to consume all the foods in moderation without binging on sweets and other unhealthy, addictive foods.


I agree that some indulgence once in a while is ok for a young person. However, such indulgence should tapers off as a person grows older, and his/her metabolism starts to slow down. There are just too many obese elderly Americans walking around in poor health, and our health care system is breaking at the seams.