Fueling a Healthy Family: The Home EnvironmentThursday, November 20, 2014
By Catherine Cioffi, RD Contributing Blogger
Many factors play a role in our health and the health of our families. Although some things are out of our control, like genetics or family history of a disease, there are also many environmental factors that we can decide for ourselves, like diet and lifestyle choices.
Another factor we have control over is our home food environment, which has been gaining attention recently with regards to children and adolescents.
Here are three ways to create a healthful home environment for you and your loved ones.
1) Slow Down for Family Meals
According to a new study in The Journal of Pediatrics, having family meals in adolescence reduces the risk of obesity later on in life. Although more frequent family meals is best, even just 1 to 2 family meals per week was found to be beneficial, when compared to never having family meals. To explain this finding, researchers suggested that family meals often include more healthful food and offer families the opportunity to connect emotionally — both of which help to build a healthier lifestyle.
2) Practice What You Preach, Positively!
Family meals are also important because they offer an opportunity for parents to model healthy behavior. A separate study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that parents who act as positive examples of healthy eating habits and who use encouragement at the dinner table were more likely to raise children who eat fruits and vegetables regularly.
3) Limit Unhealthful Foods
The study noted above also showed that greater availability of unhealthful food choices at home can negatively affect a child’s eating habits. The study found that when more unhealthful food is available in the home, children ate less fruits and vegetables and drank more high-calorie beverages.
Instead, parents should act as an effective filter choosing which foods should and shouldn’t enter the house. Parents can encourage kids to choose healthier foods by offering nutritious choices more often, while limiting less healthy choices. This is how kids learn to eat a well-balanced diet!
For More Information check out Kids Eat Right!
The Kids Eat Right website has many more tips for eating right at home, plus advice for cooking healthfully and shopping smart. This week’s article talks about how to navigate warehouse club stores so you buy the healthiest choices for your family.