Are you setting up your children for a lifetime of weight problems and unhealthy eating? You might be.
If you're serving your children larger-than-recommended portions, you may be encouraging them to eat more than they need.
Americans have to come to expect "super-sized" food servings in stores and restaurants. These larger portions are a factor in the rising number of children who are overweight. Obesity can lead to life-threatening illnesses such as diabetes, certain types of cancer and heart disease.
What can you do?
As any parent knows, mealtime can turn into wartime if you try to tell your children how much they should eat. Too much parental control over how much a child eats can be a factor in causing eating disorders. A parent's goal should be to help children trust their own bodies.
Here are some tips on how you can keep peace at mealtime and still give your kids healthy food:
- Serve a variety of healthy foods. Parents are responsible for putting nutritious food on the table. Children should have responsibility for deciding what, how much and even if they will eat.
- Go family style. Both kids and adults do better at controlling portion sizes when they serve themselves. Keep food for second helpings in the kitchen, not on the table.
- Talk to your children about food so they can learn to make healthy choices. Involve your kids in shopping for food and fixing meals. Teach them to read food labels and understand serving sizes and calories.
- Get them involved. Let your kids help shop for food and fix meals. They may be more willing to try food that they helped make.
- Don't ban foods. All foods can be part of a healthy diet if they are eaten in moderation.
- Keep healthy snacks on hand, such as fruit and low-fat yogurt. Buy fewer sodas and high-fat snacks foods. Let kids snack before dinner if they munch on healthy foods.
- Be a good role model. Your kids learn a lot by watching what you do. You can set a good example for your children by eating a variety of healthy foods in moderate portions.