Five Things Your Parents Got Wrong About Food

(Source: WebMD)

1. No snacking – you'll ruin your appetite! If you heard this when you were a kid, you should know that the thinking about snacking has grown up. Snacking can be healthy, as long as you choose wisely and don't wreck your calorie budget. Try cutting back slightly on meals to allow for one or two daily snacks between 100 and 200 calories. Healthy options include nuts, fruit, yogurt, vegetables with dip, or other low-fat, low-sugar, high-fiber options. “My general rule is go no longer than four hours without eating something, whether a meal or a snack," says Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

2. Finish everything on your plate. Did your parents make you stay at the dinner table until you'd finished everything on your plate? And are you still eating that way today? If so, you may not be heeding your body's signals that you're full and that it's time to stop eating. Try leaving something on your plate. But more importantly, stay in tune with how you're feeling. Are you full? Are you eating just because there is still food on your plate? Be particularly careful when you're eating out – the food is appealing, the plates are huge, and you may want to eat it all because you paid for it.

3. Don't eat before exercising – you'll get a cramp. You won't want to go running immediately after dinner, but eating something small and nutritious 30 to 60 minutes before exercising can help you maximize your workout. Choose high-carbohydrate, low-fat, low-fiber snacks with moderate amounts of protein in the 100- to 300-calorie range, such as a glass of chocolate milk, a slice of toast with peanut butter or a granola bar. Fruit is also fine, although it won't have much protein (add a few nuts for that).

4. Hurry up! Did your parents coach you to wolf down your breakfast every morning so you wouldn't miss the school bus? If you still eat in a hurry, you might miss your body's cues that you're full. "It takes 20 minutes for the brain to register that you feel full," Brown-Riggs says. "If you eat too quickly, you can scarf down a lot of food in a 20-minute period, and then you feel stuffed." Make a conscious effort to slow down. Taking mini-breaks between bites can also help. "Many people don't put a sandwich down until they've eaten the whole thing, but it will slow you down," Brown-Riggs says. "Also, putting your utensils down between bites should help."

5. You deserve dessert today. You may have learned this habit early, if you earned a trip to the ice cream parlor for a good report card. Or your parents may have promised you dessert as a reward for eating your broccoli or other vegetables. They had good intentions, but this is a bribe that sends a message that vegetables aren't appealing on their own. Stop using food as a prize. Instead, reward yourself with a movie, a manicure or a phone call to a friend. "It takes some work in terms of behavior change, because you may be doing it mindlessly," Brown-Riggs says. "Soon, you'll realize that you shouldn't just eat because you think you deserve something." Do reward yourself for your achievements – just don't make food the reward.


  1. I will be watching for number 4. I always find it weird how you can be super hungry, but when you begin to eat you get full without even making a dent in what you are eating. Thank you for this post!

  2. This is really interesting. I wound up becoming a Vegetarian when I was about 19 years old. We were never rushed to finish our food though. My grandmother used to hate seeing people walk and eat.

  3. My problem's #3 - especially in a restaurant.

  4. Speedy eating is a big problem in schools. Kids get shockingly short lunch periods today. I think it's b/c of school crowding b/c my exposure to current public schools saw kids eating in this very short shifts and it just wasn't enough, esp. for little kids who are kind of finicky and fidgety. And no one cares that they don't get enough food.
    I've always been a slow eater. But my school (small and private) didn't have issues with timing of meals.

    It's funny how many people think that snacking, even on healthy things, is bad. I use snacks to eat things that I'm supposed to eat but might otherwise not get enough of, like fruit. I try to pack a somewhat balanced snack bag every day...protein, fruits, carbs.

  5. I've never been able to finish everything on my plate unless I serve myself and choose my own portions. I eat slow and naturally eat small portions. My parents eventually gave up on trying to force more food on me.Everyone else feels they have the right to ridicule me in public for not eating restaurant size portions. Both men and women, all races feel like they have the right to question my eating habits.


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