Becoming A Good Food Role Model
The following blog is a guest contribution from our friends over at Food Skills for Families, a hands-on program designed to make healthy eating quick and fun for families. We hope you enjoy this chat about how to become a good food role model!
By Samantha Bissonnette, Coordinator of the Food Skills for Families program
When it comes to food, you, as a parent, are a powerful role model. Here are a few simple ideas to help you model healthy choices around shopping, cooking and eating:
Involve your kids when you shop for groceries
Involving children when you go grocery shopping is a great way to teach them about what you’re eating, and why. For example, when you’re in the produce section, you can show your children different fruits and vegetables and teach them about some produce they may never have seen. Some kids may know what a slice of zucchini or piece of sweet potato looks like but can they identify the whole vegetable? Putting older children in charge of the grocery list will get them actively involved in the shopping process.
Invite your kids into the kitchen
No matter how young or old, there’s always a role for a child in the kitchen. For example, toddlers can wash vegetables, tear lettuce, spread sandwich fillings, cut dough with a cookie cutter, peal soft fruit like bananas or oranges, mash cooked vegetables and measure and pour with supervision. Older children can participate by doing things like grating cheese, cutting vegetables with a dinner or plastic knife, and cracking and separating eggs. We find that getting out a stack of cookbooks and choosing recipes together as a family is a great way to get everyone excited about what they’re going to eat for dinner!
Eat Together as a Family
No doubt, eating together is the best way to model good choices. Children watch what their parents do, so it’s important to eat breakfast yourself, for example, if you’re encouraging your children to eat theirs. This is important, as research shows that children who eat breakfast perform better at school. Get kids excited about their lunch with these tips. Make dinner more pleasant by having relevant conversations. And we recommend avoiding arguments at meals, especially arguments about what you eat.
Model Positive Eating Habits
You can promote positive eating behaviors and healthy lifestyles by checking your reactions when eating food. If you look at food and say “Yuck, that is gross” then children will mimic what they see. If you say, “My kid will never eat that” then your child will probably not eat that. Instead, when you eat, discuss how good the food tastes, point out how colourful it is or what the texture of the food reminds you of. Your kids may be curious and give it a try!
About the Food Skills for Families Program
Food Skills for Families began in BC in 2008 by the Canadian Diabetes Association with a grant from the BC government to promote wellness and prevent diabetes and other chronic disease to specific vulnerable target populations. Since then, over 650 programs have been delivered at various host agencies in 110 communities throughout BC. To sample a class, watch this short video shot by Shaw TV in Squamish. For more information go to www.foodskillsforfamilies.ca