When my daughter was three, she created a lettuce, cheese, and ketchup salad. She was so excited to have me try it. Needless to say, I was not very excited to do so! My daughter was not very adventurous when it came to trying new foods and I knew this was the perfect teachable moment. Rather than saying, “No, it looks awful”, I said, “I’ve never tried a lettuce, cheese, and ketchup salad. It’s good to try new foods! Let’s give it a try.”
I had taken this opportunity to role model tasting new foods. Whether you are a parent, teacher, or someone who is around young children, it is important for you to remember children are watching what you eat and how active you are. Here are a few tips on how to be a model healthy food choices and physical activity:
Be a Good Food Role Model – Try new foods yourself. Describe its taste, texture, and smell. Offer one new food at a time. Serve something your child likes along with the new food. Offer new foods at the beginning of a meal when your child is very hungry. Avoid lecturing or forcing your child to eat.
Show by Example – Eat vegetables, fruits, and whole grains with meals or as snacks. Let your child see that you like to munch on raw vegetables.
Don’t Use Food As a Reward – Rather than going out to eat or buying sweet foods for every event, try rewarding yourself and your family with non-food rewards such as playing a family game or going someplace special.
Limit Screen Time – Allow no more than 2 hours a day of screen time like TV, internet, and computer games. Get up and move during commercials to get some physical activity.
Visit Choose My Plate for my ideas on how to be a good role model. And in case you are wondering, the lettuce, cheese, and ketchup salad is not on my list of favorite foods!
Mary Schroeder works for the University of Minnesota Extension which helps
to connect community needs with University of Minnesota resources. Specifically
the Health and Nutrition programs and resources focus on disease & obesity
prevention, healthy school environments, and continuing education for community
professionals. You can link to the Extension Health and Nutrition website at: