Eating Habits Begin at Home
Set an example for them —eat smart and get active! Help your children manage their weight by both modeling healthy eating patterns and by providing steady guidance on food portions. When is enough actually too much? These guidelines can help:
Use MyPyramid Plan at www.mypyramid.gov to make smart food choices from every food group and find the right balance between food and exercise.
You will find a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Nutrition Facts label on most packaged foods. Read the label to understand how many calories and how much fat, carbohydrate, sodium and other nutrients are in one serving. preventing childhood obesity.
TipsA portion. A serving. Is there a difference?
A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat. A serving is a standard amount set by the U.S. government — or sometimes by recipes, cookbooks and diets.How big are my portions?
The portion size your children eat may be three times the standard serving! See the “servings per container” line on the packaging label to find out how many servings are inside. Here’s a way to start recognizing standard serving sizes: For one week, use measuring cups and spoons when cooking, and compare them to standard serving sizes on the Nutrition Facts label. Put the measured food on a plate before you start eating. It will help you compare a standard serving to the portion you typically eat.Control the portions at home
These ideas can help your children control the portions they eat:
- Put a standard serving on a plate and eat it from there — not from the box or bag.
- Don’t have your family eat food in front of the TV or during other activity. Provide an atmosphere at mealtime where children can take the time to pay attention to their food, while participating in family discussions.
- Encourage the following eating habits:
- Eat slowly so your brain can get the message that your stomach is full.
- Eat seconds on vegetables and salads instead of higher-fat foods or desserts.
- Eat three sensible meals a day. Don’t skip meals — it can lead to larger portions at your next meal or snack.
- For treats like chips and ice cream, eat one serving.
Research shows what we already assumed — the more you eat out, the more body fat you have. When your family eats away from home, use these tips to control your child’s portions:
- Share meals, order half portions or order an appetizer as a main meal.
- Encourage your child to stop eating when they begin to feel full.
- Don’t let “supersized” beverages or soft drinks lead to "supersized" children. Order a small size instead.
- Traveling? Take along nutritious foods and snacks that won’t spoil. Here are some suggestions: fresh fruit, small cans of fruit, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, whole grain crackers, carrot sticks, air-popped popcorn and bottled water.
- Choose restaurants that serve salads, or choose the smaller burger with lettuce and tomato. Choose water or low-fat milk instead of a soft drink.
Have you noticed that it costs just a few cents more to get a larger serving of fries or a soft drink? Those larger portions may seem like a good value. But you’ll end up with more food — and more calories —than you need. Before you buy your child that next "value combo," make sure you are putting equal value on your child’s health.