Be a better role model for your family with these 4 easy diet and exercise steps

The old saying of ‘monkey-see, monkey-do’ rings true for almost all aspects of parenting, and it’s particularly apparent in food preferences and eating behaviour. Whilst we have some innate characteristics to preference certain flavours (like salt and bitterness), many of our likes, dislikes and habits are formed through environmental influences – that is, the way we grew up.

The review article Influence of parental attitudes in the development of children eating behaviour found that “parents create environments for children that may foster the development of healthy eating behaviours and weight”. They went on to discuss not only the importance of healthy food options, but also how parental attitudes towards weight, eating, exercise and health can affect a child’s eating behaviours, attitudes and beliefs. And, that the development of habits in childhood will carry on into adulthood, which can have a profound effect on chronic disease risk, including heart disease and diabetes.

The article also discussed some recommendations for application to the real world setting, and quite interestingly, it’s the simple ideas to improve both parental habits and learned child behaviours. Here are a few:

Cook at home

It doesn’t have to be Le Cordon Bleu 7 nights a week, but throwing together a simple meal with plenty of veggies can be the first step to improving a family's eating habits. When we cook at home we tend to have lower total calories and increase our vegetable intake, then when we eat takeaway or restaurant food. Involving the family in preparing meals can build nutrition knowledge and interest in the meal that is being prepared. It’s cheaper too!

In the article The significance of home cooking within families, found more benefits to cooking at home. As well as being able to control the food supply and nutritional value of your food at home, you're able to connect with your family in a social and cultural way too. Cooking at home can also improve the independence of your teenagers. So why not ask them to get involved or be in charge of making dinner one night a week!

If you have diabetes, here's a great article that we've written on easy tips to reduce your carb content, but still make delicious meals the whole family will love!