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Teach healthy food habits now
Think big! Decide which habits you want your children to have when they grow up and teach these habits now.
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Most of the parents I talk to have given little thought to the lifelong habits they want their children to learn.  And that’s kind of like driving without knowing where you’re going.  Successful parents chart this out in the beginning.  Here are some habits you might want to teach your kids:
  • How to eat foods in proportion to their healthful benefits.
  • How to try new foods.
  • To eat only when hungry (not when they are bored, sad or lonely).
  • To get through buffets and parties without overeating.
  • How to eat the correct portion size, regardless of how much is offered.  In other words, how to stop eating before the whole bag of crisps is gone.

I know it sounds far-fetched to focus on teaching young kids these habits, but guess what?  If you start really early (like when your kids start eating) then they’ll accept “No more,” when you say they have had too many sweets and they won’t put up a fuss when you don’t serve their favorite pasta every single night.

Once you’ve identified the habits you want your children to have, make sure you are teaching them the right lessons.  A mother once asked me how she could get her toddler to eat at the table.  Great question; it’s one that I am asked quite often.  The problem is, the entire time the woman was talking to me she followed her child around the room scooping yogurt into her mouth.  What was this mother teaching her daughter?  That she can eat while she plays and there’s no need for a table!  

Are your messages in sync?  Check to see if you are really teaching your children the habits you want them to have.  If not, change what you are teaching. 

Read more:
Step 1: Develop a successful mentality
Step 3: Identify what your child is getting out of acting and eating this way and provide alternatives
Step 4: Identify what is holding you hostage and develop strategy for coping
Step 5: Develop a plan for change

Dina R. Rose, PhD, is an American sociologist who specialises in children and food. She continued her research while in South Africa with her family for a sabbatical year. Dina will be returning to South Africa in August and is available to address groups of parents on food and parenting issues. If you are interested in arranging a visit from Dina for your school or parent group, mail Dina on

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