With the Spring Holidays, Easter, and Passover right around the corner, children are showered with treats and sweets- making for a challenging time for parents to keep their kids on healthy diets.
Children’s food preferences have a huge influence on their food intake. Most likely we were all told at one point that, “You can’t leave the table before you clean your plate!” And we all remember how well that tactic worked in getting us to eat our greens – not very well.
A new research study published in early March reassures the parents among us that we are not alone – most parents are both mystified and troubled about their children’s eating patterns. Surprisingly, the role parental beliefs have in the development of children’s food preferences has seldom been investigated. Luckily the researcher’s results may help us parents hone our “feeding” techniques.
Catherine Russell and Anthony Worsley of the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Australia have identified three main influences on children’s eating habits. The first is the child’s level of food neophobia, fear of new things or experiences as well as personality. The second is the food’s sensory attributes like texture and appearance. The third is the child’s socialization experiences such as modelling and parental feeding behaviors.
The research found preliminary evidence suggesting that kids, aged 2-5, with healthier eating patterns had parents who believed that eating habits can change. The trend in the data also suggested that kids with less healthy diets had parents who were more inclined to believe that eating habits are a result of inflexible personality characteristics. However, the great message of this research is that there is a real need to do more in depth research about the ways in which parents’ beliefs affect children’s food preferences.
This is rich material for Integrative Nurse Coaches to explore as we have an insight into the significance of inter-personal relationships and nutrition alike. However you celebrate this time of year, remember to nourish your heart as well as your body!