Where Do Healthy Kids Eating Habits Begin? Why At Home Of Course!

It has been said that you could learn a lot about any culture, past or present, by examing their garbage.  Without a doubt, I believe that to be true.  We, today, live in a disposable society and our landfills are a testimonial to that fact.  We waste a lot!  I bet that it is possible to identify people house by house and street by street by their trash.  Extreme maybe…possible definitely!  In many cases, the eating habits of individuals, young and old, are pretty good.  But there are some cases where entire communities do not eat well.  Is it understandable, that even now in 2012, there are people who are comfortable maintaining an unhealthy lifestyle by eating non-nutritional food?  With all of the information that is out there and available to you in a variety of ways and at times from some of the most unlikely sources (think fast food outlets), you would think that people at all levels would have gotten the message by now.  I guess you don’t know that when you hear or read “Taste Just Like Homemade” about what you are about to eat, probably would taste better if it were made where…but at home

It seems like each decade following the “big one”…World War II, we as a culture have spent less time eating together as a family…passing down family recipes by cooking together.  It’s too easy and it would also be a cheap shot to say that as women joined the workforce and joined the corporate rat race that they are soley responsible for the breakdown in the “eating as a family” dynamic.  Personally, I believe thay any adult or age appropriate/responsible child in the family should be able to cook.  There’s so much talk by our young about their being mature enough to manage their own lives without any direction or support from us, well I say once the shape their mouths to utter those words… “Presto Chango ala Kazam” you put them in the kitchen with an apron on…sleeves rolled up…pot in one hand and a spoon in the other.  WOO HOO!

Seriously though, I just read a marketing article that addresses the same topic.  The article opens with the statement that “the apple doesn’t fall far frlm the tree when it comes to healthy eating habits among kids ages 6-11.  Moms and step-moms are prime influencers in this regard, so marketers have ample reasons to communicate nutrition and health messages to this caregiver audience for a wide range of edibles.”  You see that they, marketers/advertisers, get it even though as a marketer they are coming to this from a different direction, while hoping for financial benefits by doing so.

I come from the “pre-junk food” decade, where most of the food I consumed was made at home.  And to be fair, based on today’s standards, the food was not always prepared in the most healthy or nutritious manner.  And to be even more fair…it was real good too!  Even so, throughout my life I have always been very curious about what I ate and how it was prepared It is also why I was introduced to cooking at a fairly early age.  If you can only eat when somebody else did the cooking you’d starve!  Am I right?  YOU KNOW I AM!

So I wasn’t surprised to read, “those who purchase low-calore or organic foods and who don’t keep junk food at home have children who are more likely than the average child to express healthy eating-related attitudes.”  This is according to GfK MRI’s “2011 American Kids Study” and its supplemental “Parents Study.”  It also says “moms (and caregiver dads) who teach their children to read nutrition labels appear to have the most health-conscious kids.  The children of these parents are 106% more likely than the average child to read nutrition labels, 44% more likely to avoid fattening foods, 35% more likely to stay away from sugary foods, and 31% more likely to play sports to stay in shape.”  This isn’t the type of information that makes for headlines or newsbreaks but it’s very important nonetheless.  The average caregiver does not have this behavior-changing information.

It probably goes without saying that children that grow up without nutrition rules are less concerned with maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  They are also less likely to pay attention to sugar or fat content (both of which have significant health ramifications), to read nutrition labels or play sports or exercise.  And let us not forget the possibility of behavior problems.  They are 64% more likely to eat what they want and most of the time that means something quick or easy…not necessarily something good for them.  The Chefs Collaborative, a network of chefs, restauranteurs and other culinary professionals, who promote sustainable cuisine by teaching their children, supporting local farmers, educating each other and inspiring their customers to choose clean, healthy foods have a statement of principles which are noted below:

  1. Food is fundamental to life.  It nourishes us in body, and soul and the sharing of food immeasurably enriches our sense of community.
  2. Good, safe, wholesome food is a basic human right.
  3. Society has the obligation to make good, pure food affordable and accessible to all.
  4. Good food begins with unpolluted air, land and water, environmentally sustainable farming and fishing and humane animal husbandry.
  5. Sound food choices emphasize locally grown, seasonably fresh and whole or minimally processed ingredients.
  6. Cultural and biological diversity is essential for the health of the planet and its inhabitants.  Preserving and revitalizing sustainable food and agricultural traditions, strengthen that diversity.
  7. The healthy, traditional diets of many cultures offer abundant evidence that fruits, vegetables, beans, breads and grains are the foundation of good diets.
  8. As part of their education, children deserve to be taught basic cooking skills and to learn the impact of their food choices themselves, on their culture and on their environment.

Now where did I hear that before?

As adults we have the opportunity to have a major impact on our kids…your kids and the kids around us.  I don’t have any kids so I find that I must contribute through programs like Project Sweet Tomato and cooking for my family/relatives.  Those of you parenting young children must see that your own eating habits is the model your kids are exposed to, impressed with and most likely to emulate…good or bad.  Therefore, if the change(s) that need to be made have to start with you first, make it a joint effort…but make the change!  It will be good for your little one(s) as well as being good for you.

Besides, when you see the positive impact that this could have on your weekly/monthly grocery bill, you may be asking yourself “why didn’t I do this before?”  The aforementioned study shows that kids influence of everyday purchase decisions on items like breakfast foods (89%) and lunch (88%), fast food restaurants (88%) and dinner (81%) is very high.  But, if, you can train them right from the start to have a healthy focus on what they eat, you will have more control and should be able to, along with them, enjoy the benefits of a fun and healthy relationship with food.

Arthur Littsey/Project Sweet Tomato

 For more on this topic…Nutrition…Are You On The Right Track?

Source: MediaPost Publications “Media Post’s Marketing: Health; Anne Marie Kelly, SVP of Marketing and Strategic Planning, Mediamark Research & Intelligence
For more information about the Chefs Colaborative and about community programs near you so that you can support their efforts, contact them at www.chefscollaborative.org.info@chefscollaborative.org or (617) 236-5200

6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    […] “Where Do Healthy Kids Eating Habits Begin?  Why At Home Of Course! […]

  2. 2

    Nancy said,

    Great advice Arthur!

  3. 4

    Hello there, You’ve performed an incredible job. I’ll certainly digg it and for my part recommend to my friends. I’m sure they will be benefited from this site.

    • 5

      Thank you! I appreciate the comment. Maybe in the future you would like to share some of your recipes? Especially something fun that parents and their children could make together.

  4. 6

    […] Where Do Healthy Kids Eating Habits Begin? Why At Home Of Course! (3/7/12) […]

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