Our eating habits are established in childhood and remain with us for life. Dining as a family plays an important role in the development of these habits. Children model and mimic adult behaviours, ranging from how we use our cutlery, not speaking with our mouths full and observing what and how much we eat. Studies have shown that one of the largest determinants of whether a child will eat vegetables is if their parents eat them as well. A recent UK study (Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Dec 2012) of over 2000 school children identified that children who ate with their families for the main meal of the day consumed 125g more fruit and vegetables than those that did not. Furthermore, in the families where the food was pre-cut for the children, an additional 40g of fruit and vegetables were consumed.
This study shows that parents who model positive eating habits and help to prepare food specifically for their children help encourage children to eat in a healthier manner and build long term healthy eating behaviours.