Modeling healthy eating is beneficial to children

My little boy is at the age where he has decided he does not like to eat vegetables. As a parent, how can I instill better eating habits in my child?

Photo: Getty Images

While it’s normal for young children to be picky eaters, there are ways that you can help them develop healthier eating habits. One easy way is through modeling healthy eating habits yourself. One of the most common ways that children learn new things is by watching and imitating parents’ actions.

In fact, research has shown that parents’ eating choices can have a major influence on their children, said Ingrid Adams, state specialist in food, health, and human behavior for Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Studies have found that parental modeling of healthy food choices has been positively associated with those same parents’ children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables. And children whose parents modeled healthy eating behaviors were more likely to meet their recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables, Adams said.

“By modeling unhealthy eating behaviors, parents may increase the likelihood of their children being overweight or obese, putting them at greater risk for chronic diseases that can affect their health now and in the future,” she said in Modeling at Mealtime, a recent Ohioline fact sheet. Ohioline is OSU Extension’s free online information resource and can be found at ohioline.osu.edu.

Adams offers these helpful tips for parents to model healthy eating habits in children:

  • Be willing to try new and healthy food options yourself. Offer new foods without forcing or bribing your child to eat them.
  • Show your kids how to make healthy choices during meals and snack times by choosing nutritious foods—and avoiding “junk foods”—yourself.
  • Choose fruits and vegetables as snacks in place of chips and candies, and replace sodas and other sugary, sweetened drinks with water. In other words, make water your dink of choice.
  • Make meals nutrient dense by including foods from each of the five good groups: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and dairy.
  • Take kids with you when you go grocery shopping. Show them how to choose fresh produce, compare nutrition labels on foods, and how to shop on a budget. This can help them understand where their food comes from, how to make healthy choices, and how to use money wisely.

“Planning and making healthy meals with your children is another way to teach healthy eating habits. It is also a great way for children to learn about nutrition and food safety, and develop cooking skills and creativity,” Adams said. “Encourage creativity by having children create a new menu item from a list of ingredients you picked out together.”

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor: Ingrid Adams, field specialist in food, health, and human behavior for OSU Extension, reviewed this column.

Understanding symptoms of food poisoning

How do I know if I have food poisoning?

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The symptoms of food poisoning vary depending on the type of germ to which you’ve been exposed, but there are some common signs that can indicate whether you’ve been exposed to a foodborne illness.

The most common signs include stomach cramps, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Some bacteria, such as Listeria can cause flu-like symptoms.

It’s important to note that symptoms of food poisoning can range from mild to serious and that some of them can come on as quickly as 30 minutes after you eat or as long as four weeks after you’ve eaten something that contains a foodborne pathogen, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The time it takes for symptoms of a foodborne illness to manifest really depends on the germ. For example, according to the CDC, if you consume foods that are contaminated with:

  • Staphylococcus aureus (staph), symptoms could appear as soon as 30 minutes to six hours later.
  • Clostridium perfringens, symptoms could appear as soon as six to 24 hours later.
  • Norovirus, symptoms could appear as soon as 12 to 48 hours later.
  • Salmonella, symptoms could appear as soon as 12 to 72 hours later.
  • Clostridium botulinum (botulism), symptoms could appear as soon as 18 to 36 hours later.
  • Vibrio vulnificus, symptoms could appear as soon as one to four days later.
  • Campylobacter, symptoms could appear as soon as two to five days later.
  • coli, symptoms could appear three to four days later.
  • Cyclospora, symptoms could appear one week later.
  • Listeria monocytogenes, symptoms could appear one to four weeks later.

Some people may experience symptoms that last several hours or several days, said Sanja Ilic, the state food safety specialist for Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

“While most people experience only a mild illness, people with underlining conditions that weaken their immune system may experience severe outcomes that require them to be hospitalized,” she said.

So how do you know if you should see a doctor for your symptoms? The CDC advises people to seek medical attention for severe symptoms, including:

  • Blood in your stool.
  • A high fever, typically over 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, measured with an oral thermometer.
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than three days.
  • Frequent vomiting that prevents you from keeping down liquids, as this can lead to dehydration.
  • Signs of dehydration, which can be marked by a decrease in urination, a very dry mouth and throat, or feeling dizzy upon standing.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Sanja Ilic, state food safety specialist for OSU Extension.