Preventing Type 2 Diabetes: Cooking Up Healthy Habits

One of the best things we can do for our children, or grandchildren, is be a role model for healthy lifestyle behaviors.

An interesting two-year study recently published in JAMA Pediatrics illustrates the power of parental modeling by comparing two types of interventions designed to help overweight children:

  • In the family-based intervention, overweight kids (aged 8 to 12) worked on lifestyle modification with their therapists, other children in a group, and with their parents at home.
  • In the parent-based intervention, parents received the same education and behavior modification techniques as in family-based sessions, but were responsible for sharing the information with their children, and modeling the behaviors at home.

It was expected that the family-based approach would achieve better outcomes, so researchers were surprised when the two types of intervention achieved similar results.

“Parents play a critical role in the process of helping their child lose weight by modeling healthy behaviors and reinforcing a balanced diet and exercise,” said researcher Kerri Boutelle, PhD, a professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Cooking Up Healthy Habits

The study emphasizes the role parents can play as agents of change in their children’s lives, and maybe one of the most helpful things we can role model is cooking with fresh ingredients at home.

Not only might we practice home-cooking more often, we can invite our children to participate in the process, and there are at least five good reasons why we should:

  1. Learning to cook promotes mindfulness, or the simple act of giving our full attention to what we are doing. It gives children a chance use their math (measuring) skills, to practice reading, following a recipe, and to problem solve. There are also plenty of small, manageable cooking tasks that preschool family members can accomplish.
  2. Some kids will be less enthusiastic about cooking than others, but being competent in the kitchen is a practical life skill to have—especially since eating at home is much better for our longterm health than consuming fast or processed fare. Competence with any skill is also a great confidence booster.
  3. Preparing meals with our kids, or grandkids is a great way - albeit sometimes a messy way - to create positive memories and strengthen family ties. Cooking together is a purposeful, creative endeavor that requires communication, and cooperation. When undertaken with a spirit of playfulness or adventure, children can learn, have fun, and experience a sense of accomplishment and contribution.
  4. Understanding how the flavor and texture of each ingredient enhances a meal develops an appreciation for good food, and the effort that goes into creating it.
  5. Everyone, kids and adults, will benefit from eating meals that are more nutrient rich than processed foods that often contain added sugars, unhealthy fats, and unsavory additives. Plus, cooking together is the perfect setting for talking about the importance of good nutrition.

As parents, it is impossible to not model behavior for our children. They grow up with our lifestyle choices as a template for how life should be lived. There could be no better incentive for practicing healthy food habits.

Source: Science Daily; Clean Plates
Photo credit: Tim Pierce

Get a Free Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to InformationAboutDiabetes.com who may contact you with updates and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy.

More Articles

Limiting our intake of highly processed foods, and eating more whole and lightly processed fare can boost our nutrient and fiber intake, lower...

Chamomile tea has long been prized for its calming properties, but few people realize it’s also beneficial for glucose regulation. Traditionally,...

Today, the healing benefits of essential oils are more than the claims of ancient tradition and alternative medicine. They are increasingly the...

The different sugar content of fruits can be confusing when you are trying to manage your...

There is nothing close to a one-size-fits-all exercise program for those with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The best general advice is to...

More Articles

Chamomile tea has long been prized for its calming properties, but few people realize it’s also beneficial for glucose regulation. Traditionally,...

There is nothing close to a one-size-fits-all exercise program for those with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The best general advice is to...

”Metabolic memory” (less commonly known as ”hyperglycemic memory” or “legacy effect”) refers to the lingering effects of a long period of either...

Limiting our intake of highly processed foods, and eating more whole and lightly processed fare can boost our nutrient and fiber intake, lower...

With such a marked increase in the number of new diabetes cases, more people are wondering if type 1 diabetes...

Do not let pictures of yoga experts with their bodies twisted into bizarre, compact shapes fool you. Even people with stiff muscles, creaky joints...

The American Diabetes Association estimates that more than 7 million people in the United States have diabetes but don’t know it yet. These people...

While some celebrities aren't quick to talk about living with diabetes, others are quite transparent and inspiring - acting as advocates for the...

People with diabetes are about twice as likely to experience heart disease as those without the condition, making cardiovascular health a critical...

Pilates is an exercise method proven to improve flexibility, strength, coordination, muscular stamina, balance, and posture. Many Pilates...

All diabetics know that maintaining proper blood sugar levels is the lifeline...

It can be difficult enough to get on stage and make a roomful of strangers laugh, but for comedians suffering from type 1 or type 2 diabetes,...

Most people with insulin-dependent diabetes use syringes and lancets every day. However, many of them do not know how to dispose of these...

Explaining diabetes to children can seem like a daunting task, but in reality, it is no more difficult than discussing anything else important....

Diabetes is a complex disease, affecting virtually every part of the body. The damage it does, to nerve endings, blood vessels, organs, and the...