…then the kids eat at McDonalds; even if Dad doesn’t.

One of the many things I love about the work I do is that I get see patterns in human behaviors.  For some reason this is a fascination of mine and I enjoy seeing how we as a collective group of people behave similarly in some ways.

One such pattern I have witnessed over the years in working with clients is a pattern of nutritional health within a family. Of course there are exceptions to every pattern and I have not conducted any formal research into this subject; just noting what I have seen repeatedly.

I have noticed that if a family has a nutritionally healthy father but a mother who makes less than stellar food choices, the children will more often pattern after mom’s eating habits. I think this goes beyond the initial influence that moms have over the lives of very young children. The state of mom’s consciousness of her own health, food choices and physical activity greatly impacts how children are conditioned in these areas.

More often than not, as it affects kids, I have seen a healthy father’s influence be overridden if not outright, then lowered by a mom’s unhealthy eating habits. However, the opposite isn’t true. An nutritionally unhealthy father doesn’t not have the same negative impact on the children’s eating habits. A nutritionally healthy mom yields tremendous influence in teaching her children good habits; even if dad is a fast food junkie.

So what does this mean? Ladies, we must be aware of the role modeling we are providing for our children and teens. If the solution to “what’s for dinner” is to go to McDonalds and order up massive amounts of fat and salt for dinner, our children and teens are more likely to see that as a decent food option. Gentlemen, if you are single be aware of the health habits of your potential marriage partner and the long term affect on your future family. Married men, kindly speak up and encourage your wives to embrace a more healthy lifestyle for herself and your kiddos and respecfully refuse to eat in unhealthy ways.

It may be a hard adjustment to get away from the convenience of fast food and poor eating habits, but in my opinion, the epidemic of overweight and unhealthy youth starts at home and can be reversed. Having lost 115lbs over the last 20 years, I know.  Here is an old blog post from 2011 discussing the weight loss – http://southlakecounseling.org/archives/112lbs-and-going

It’s not easy to change lifestyle habits but well worth the efforts and the benefits go beyond just this generation.