Stories about: Portion control for kids

Our kids are what we eat

Meaghan O’Keeffe, RN, BSN, is a mother, writer and nurse. She worked at Boston Children’s Hospital for nearly a decade, in both the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and the Pre-op Clinic.  She is a regular contributor to Thriving.

Meaghan_OKeeffe_1The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released a report showing a reduction in childhood obesity rates among children 2 to 5. We should acknowledge that encouraging trend.

Still, overall, child obesity rates have seen a gradual increase over the last 14 years, according to the most recent data published by the JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) Pediatrics.

Obviously, we still have lots of work ahead of us—and by us, I mean parents.

Kids learn a lot from their parents’ attitudes and behaviors around eating. For many of us, that might mean we’ve inadvertently passed some of our not-so-great eating habits on to our kids. One morning, my husband mentioned that he’d been consciously giving the kids smaller bowls of cereal for breakfast. They seemed satisfied with the new amount and often finished their portion, rather than leaving excess to throw away. If they wanted more, he’d sprinkle enough in their bowls to appease them, without giving them an additional meal’s worth of food. It made me realize that I, on the other hand, had taken to mindlessly dumping in a bunch of cereal without giving it a second thought. Whoops.

But rather than feeling guilty about what our children may have picked up from us, we should be thankful about how much influence we have over what and how our children eat. It can encourage us to develop a healthier attitude towards our own food habits so we can help make lasting changes in our children. They might not even have to know we’re doing it.

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