When did YOU first start eating healthy? Some people started in adulthood when coming to terms with health concerns such as weight
or heart health. Consider for a moment how healthy eating was introduced to you. Growing up did your parents or caregivers indulge you with sweets and junk food, or was your house the “uncool” one that the other kids didn’t want to visit because your family didn’t have any of that junk? Or were (or still are) you one of those picky eaters who doesn’t seem to like much of anything?
Whatever the case may be, your eating habits may have some basis in what you were brought up eating. Researchers are now even finding that the nature of our eating habits has a genetic basis.
According to a study conducted by professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, Dr. Myles Faith, a fear of new foods may be inherited through the genes passed down to us, ”Over the last 10 years, there’s been more and more interest in this question of nature and nurture with food.” Dr. Faith’s study concerned 66 pairs of identical twins four to seven years of age. The study concluded that 72% of a child’s aversion to certain foods is due to genetic predisposition with the remainder being influenced by other environmental factors. (1)
Ok, so we are 72% predisposed genetically to like some foods and not others; but just because it’s in our genes doesn’t mean we automatically should eat cake for breakfast every day because we like it better than oatmeal. We are still equipped with an amazing brain that can make the decision to eat in a healthier way because it allows our bodies to function in an optimal manner. Furthermore, we do have control over environmental factors pertaining to wholesome food choice habits. These environmental factors that influence such eating habits include:
- Turn off the TV. As adults we tend to over eat when watching the boob-tube (probably a partial result from the bombardment of ads for super unhealthy foods!). The same is true for kids. Research has also shown that kids of all ages who watch TV during mealtime are less likely to try new, healthy foods. (2)
- The Family That Eats Together…. Eating a wide range of healthy fare while sitting down for family meals together models the example of good eating habits for kids. Kids witnessing parents, older siblings and even grandparents eating green leafy kale or quinoa salad are likely to model their families’ behavior. This sticks with children as they grow up into adults mindful of their food choices.
- Don’t offer a dessert as reward for eating veggies. Did your Mom promise that you’d get that ice cream in exchange for two more bites of broccoli? Have you noticed that now when you’ve eaten something healthy or do an extra intense workout that you reward yourself with some Ben and Jerry’s? This habit is super hard to break, but can be overcome with mindful eating and willpower. Encourage your own kids to eat their broccoli without promise of Cherry Garcia… maybe one less chore this week would work better!
- It’s All About Appearances! Kids tend to be more willing to try foods that are presented well. Check out these fun ways to make ordinary healthy foods more appealing for kids! And it’s not just true for the kiddos… get some gorgeous dessert plates and use them as dinner plates. It’s a great way to keep your portion control in check and make your food look more appetizing…
Our own trainer, Jill Knipp, admitted that as a kid she was surprised to see the junk the other kids got to eat as her mother didn’t allow such food in her house. When she became a mom herself, she remembers how her kids’ friends never wanted to hang out at their house because she didn’t have any junk food either! Jill’s example really goes to show that parents (and Uncles’ & Aunties!) that set the example of healthy eating have kids who grow up to be healthy eaters.
What was your experience of healthy eating growing up? Were you taught to choose veggies from an early age? Were you regularly given soda? How did this affect your eating habits now as an adult? Here at Perfect Fit, we’d love to hear more about your healthy eating journey! Share your story with us on Facebook!
- Bindley, Katherine. “Is Picky Eating Genetic? Heredity Mostly Responsible for Children’s Narrow Food Choices, Study Shows.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/22/picky-eating-genetic-heredity-children-food_n_2926924.html
- Nazario, Brunhilda, MD., Ed. “What You Didn’t Know About Picky Eaters”. http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/feeding-a-picky-eater
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