How can you influence grown children's nutrition?


The Ideal and the Real

Here's the ideal: You've taught your child about good nutrition almost since the day he or she was born. You taught by example by serving and eating good, healthy foods: lots of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, easy on the fats and sodium, homemade rather than processed foods. You avoided junk foods and sugary drinks. Your child regularly joined you for family meals, helped you cook, and grew up understanding good nutrition and why it's important.

Unfortunately, many of us fall short of the ideal. Maybe you didn't understand as much as you should have about nutrition in your early years as a parent. Maybe you've learned more recently, possibly out of necessity.

On the other hand, maybe you knew better, but reality interfered. Sometimes you found yourself stopping at fast-food restaurants on the way home from soccer games, bringing home takeout food or frozen pizzas, throwing together meals from cans and boxes, and giving in to pleas for snacks and sodas.

Even if you set a reasonably good example, odds are your child strayed from it when at college or in that first apartment. Childhood's good habits vanish quickly in an atmosphere of late nights, limited time, tight money and scant cooking facilities. It doesn't help that campuses are filled with fast food options and vending machines.

If you're the parent of a college student or recent graduate, you know that for the last four years or so, your child's nutrition has probably been lacking. It's likely that his idea of cooking was adding hot water to ramen noodles.

Now that your kid has a job and a kitchen, how can you intervene to set things right? Read on for suggestions.

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