A new study, published by the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, found that children who watch a healthy food cooking show are more likely to make healthy choices than children who watched a different episode (featuring unhealthy food). So, what does this mean? This study shows that eating habits begin in childhood, whether they are healthy habits or unhealthy. This suggests that visual cues on tv or in person (from role models such as parents) can impact the choices that the child makes. This concept does not seem entirely crazy because we know that children tend to model behavior (like when your two-year-old suddenly starts repeating everything you say or do…uh oh!). In addition to food choices, the amount of food consumed and how often eating occurs is important to model for children. Undereating and overeating can be detrimental to a person’s wellbeing and finding the right balance is key. What is most important is the fact that eating choices and behaviors influence your physical health as well as your mental health. In the long run, people who eat healthier throughout their lives tend to have less health implications that come along with some unhealthy choices or behaviors.
Some unhealthy behaviors that can unfortunately develop are eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa (severely undereating because of fear of weight gain) or bulimia nervosa (compensatory behaviors to maintain weight). In addition to these serious eating disorders, the development of anxiety and depression and self-esteem problems is possible. It is important to show children that eating is necessary and eating an adequate amount is good for you. The focus should not be on the body of the child but instead on the nutritional aspect of the food that is consumed.
Here is what you can do:
- Grocery shop for more healthy or nutrient-rich foods to fill the pantry/refrigerator with
- Allow some autonomy with eating decisions (Would you like peas or carrots? An apple or an orange? etc.)
- Encourage healthy choices at mealtimes and snack times
- Exhibit healthy eating behaviors and choices around children
- Explain the benefits of healthy eating
- Always encourage to try new foods
- Never be afraid to address certain unhealthy behaviors in and open and informative way if your child is putting themselves in any sort of danger
One of the best ways to incorporate fruits and veggies into a child’s diet can be through smoothies! Smoothies are nutritious and even the pickiest of eaters will be able to find one (or more) that they love! Here is an idea:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
- 600ml / 2 cups milk
- 1 large banana
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- handful of spinach
- optional: honey / maple syrup / date syrup
- Add all the ingredients to your blender and blitz until smooth. Serve immediately, over ice if you like it cold!
Although we are not nutritional experts, we do find this recipe delicious and the experts do say that it is nutritious! For more healthy smoothies and recipes, you can visit myfussyeater.com or watch Ciara Attwell on YouTube (My Fussy Eater)!
Kassidy at Olive Branch