Friday, June 5, 2009

Parents and Food

The title on a recent Medical News Today article is "Parents' Influence on Children's Eating Habits is Small, New Study Finds". The study found a weak resemblance between childrens' and parents' eating habits. Here's an explanation given for parents' weak influence:
"Factors other than parental eating behaviors such as community and school, food environment, peer influence, television viewing, as well as individual factors such as self-image and self-esteem seem to play an important role in young people's dietary intake," said May A. Beydoun, PhD, co-author of the study and a former postdoctoral research fellow at the Bloomberg School.
Parental influence is being crowded out in the USA when it comes to eating choices. Of course, I wouldn't be surprised to find that parental influence is being crowded out in many other areas in the USA, too.

Contrary to the trend of the study, I find I eat much like my mother did. But then, my mother also had family dinners--a main dish with meat, fruit salad, vegetable salad every night--and we didn't have "lunch money" to buy what our peers were buying. We either got school lunch (paid by mom, sometimes with help from the government) or we brought sack lunches to school. We also moved a lot, so community influences were less important in our lives. My mother taught us to eat wisely and to scorn "junk" food, e.g., soda pop is for parties, while juice, milk and water are for regular beverage consumption.

Because the food provided by our mother was the primary source of our sustenance, her choices heavily affected what I eat now. And I am so grateful to her! I believe that a determined parent can have a strong influence on what their children eat if they make the effort to 1) give their children regular meals together where they teach proper nutrition principles, and 2) limit the ability of outside influences to have an effect on what food their children consume.

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