For years, moms have been the unofficial point person in the kitchen, serving up healthy meals and teaching kids to eat right. But today, many dads are getting in on the action too. And that can have big benefits for the whole family. When both parents are involved it delivers a powerful message that eating nutritiously is an important part of a happy, healthful life.
Here are five easy ways dads can make a difference:
- Set a great example.
You may not know it, but your child is watching the foods you choose – and following in your footsteps. Teaching them to choose smarter snacks can give them a big nutritional boost. If you want your kids to reach for fruit instead of cookies, show them how it's done by leading the way.
- Start in the supermarket.
Food shopping isn't just mom's job anymore. Why not take kids to the supermarket to load up on healthy eats? They'll love giving input for family meal ideas and helping find ingredients in the store.
- Get cooking!
Research suggests fathers who rank family meals as an important event are less likely to have kids who favor fast food restaurants. When both parents take turns cooking in the kitchen the likelihood of a home cooked meal doubles. That's not the only reason dad should don his chef's hat. When kids see dad whipping out pots and pans or chopping vegetables in the kitchen they develop a broader, more flexible view of gender roles.
- Take it outside.
Outdoor activities are the ideal environment for dads to get on board with a healthier lifestyle. Plant a garden, fire up the grill, or toss the ball around. Given that the majority of parents and kids play video games or watch TV together at least three days a week, the great outdoors is the ideal place for dads to help step up the whole family's physical activity. Instead of reaching for the remote, round up the family for a bike ride or recruit them for a game of soccer.
- Stand united.
To raise a family of healthy eaters both parents have to walk the walk and talk the talk. This means that parents should have a healthy relationship with food and model the behaviors they want their kids to emulate. Help kids learn that food supplies energy and nutrients and that there are no "good" or "bad" foods.