Responsible Parenting at Home...

old message Responsible Parenting at Home Darrell Miller 10/22/05

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Date: October 22, 2005 02:16 PM
Subject: Responsible Parenting at Home

Responsible Parenting at Home

Ultimately, it is parents who can steer children away from the churning obesity storm; they can control the elements and set examples that help their children make healthy nutrition and activity choices when they’re on their own.

To Brian Wansink, author of Marketing Nutrition (University of Illinois Press) and Professor of Applied Economics of Marketing and of Nutritional Science at Cornell University, parents are “nutritional gatekeepers,” responsible for ensuring a healthy household diet. “A household’s nutritional gatekeepers make 71% of a child’s food choices; those preparing the food in the household account for the bulk of a child’s caloric intake,” observes Wansink. “Parents must realize that they have a much bigger influence over their children’s nutritional intake and eating habits than they think.”

Purchasing and preparing nutritious foods is only half the battle. Kids have to eat these healthy foods, many of which have a time-honored reputation for being “yucky.” But with proper planning a preparation, even green vegetables can be made appealing to a finicky kid.

“The more children are exposed to certain foods, the more they will grow to like those foods,” Wansink says. “Appreciation for certain foods develops as we age; other foods we appreciate inherently.” The challenge lies in helping children enjoy healthy foods.

Adults have long used classic bribery and guilt techniques to entice kids into eating foods they dislike; “Don’t you want to be a member of the clean plate club?” “Finish your broccoli or you get no dessert!” Wansink says such techniques are counterproductive. “Commanding children to clean their plates or rewarding them for finishing vegetables is the wrong strategy. Instead, ask children to ‘just take a taste’ of vegetables or other healthy foods every time they are served. This helps to build an adaptive preference, so children will begin to like these vegetables and eat them willingly.”

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