Where Past Meets Present: Family Meal Patterns


In what ways does your past influence your present eating habits? Your history is unique to you. The foods you remember eating as a child, the habits your family reinforced surrounding dinner or dessert—even your inclination to eat (nor not eat) your vegetables can in many ways be traced back to the habits regarding healthy eating that you were presented with as a child. Those family habits become ingrained, and they die hard.

Unfortunately, not every parent is a nutritionist. Parents make poor eating choices, just as you, now an adult, make poor eating choices from time to time. The eating habits of your parents become the norm for you as a child, and without understanding how or why you could still be making food choices based on the whim of something one of your parents preferred.

Negative eating habits are often reinforced in children without a second thought. This includes habits like:

  • Eating mindlessly in front of the TV
  • Going back for seconds after dinner
  • Eating before going to bed
  • Drinking soda or sugary juices with your meals

As an adult, you can look at these habits and see their negative consequences. However, even though they may recognize them, many adults don’t notice these habits in their own lives.

Environmental habits like family meal patterns have a huge influence on a child’s developing relationship with food. In many cases, personal issues that you are confronting regarding unhealthy eating habits like binge snacking or stress eating will be difficult to resolve until you identify the root of the habit by addressing the ways your childhood may be influencing your current weight issues.

Just as the past may influence your present habits, making changes to your present will impact your future. Growing up with unhealthy eating habits will make adjusting to a healthier way of eating more difficult, but not impossible. Take steps to recognize the negative habits in your own life that may be ingrained, and consider how you can correct those habits now to set yourself up for a healthier future. Making healthy changes to the way your household interacts with food now can help you achieve your weight loss goals, and can help set your children up for a healthier relationship with food long-term.

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