Raising Healthy Eaters in a Fast Food World

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RENO, NV-- Half of all Washoe County adults are obese or overweight, but the children in our county are actually healthier. Experts meeting Thursday at the University of Nevada suggest those children will have the same fate as their parents if they don't learn healthy habits now.

It's difficult, but possible to raise a healthy eater in a fast food world.

Parents today have it tough. Fast food on every corner, junk-food on store shelves and ads to remind us all how good it tastes.

"It's almost like the minute that you expose them to things like that, it becomes a habit and the more they want it," said dietitian Yolanda Ortega-Gammil. She told parents and educators at UNR parents should expose kids to health foods but not force them to eat those foods.

"Being a good example is huge. Kids want to do what you do far more than what you say," said Ortega-Gammil.

Don't require kids to eat vegetables in order to get dessert. Yolanda says that teaches kids healthy foods aren't as tasty as junk foods.

"Because parents are already thinking about how they are going to hide them or how they are going to bribe them to eat them," said Ortega-Gammil.

Having children finish their plates also is not advised. Kids will eat when they're hungry, and stop when they're full. but if you force them to finish, they'll be over-eaters for life.

"The parents are responsible for what, where and when. So what their children eat, where they eat and when they eat," said Ortega-Gammil.

A parent's job is to provide a healthy meal, around the dining table, at dinner time. The child's job is to choose how to eat it.

"You should not try to control how much of it they eat, that they have to try the green beans," said Ortega-Gammil.

Kids are also more likely to eat foods they are interested in. That's why its also beneficial to bring them into the kitchen and allow them to help you prepare healthy foods.