How can you influence grown children's nutrition?

Nutrition and Psychology 101
If you want to get your kids to do what you want without being bossy, try a little camaraderie instead.
If you want to get your kids to do what you want without being bossy, try a little camaraderie instead.
Hans Neleman/Getty Images

Telling your kids what to do when they were rebellious teenagers and lived under your roof was challenging enough. Now they're grown, and more or less on their own. They don't want unsolicited advice, much less parents who are trying to boss them around.

With nutrition, as with so many things, you'll have more success if you approach your grown child as a friend, not as a dictator or lecturer.

  • If your child wants advice, give it in an informal, matter-of-fact way.
  • Tell anecdotes about your early days of shopping and cooking, humorous mistakes you made, and helpful things you learned.
  • Share things you've learned more recently about nutrition and cooking, including information about nutrition-related health problems. Avoid taking the next step of telling your child what to do. He or she can connect the dots.
  • Talk about nutrition and health-related articles in the news and on the Internet.
  • Invite your child to shop with you at a farmers market or store that sells healthy foods.
  • Encourage friendships and relationships that include visiting farmers markets, other shopping and cooking. Mention that cooking together can be fun and even romantic.
  • Hold your tongue if your child tells you about "discovering" some food you prepared or technique you used in vain when he or she was a kid. Young adults learn more readily from their peers. If a significant other can get your child to try healthy dishes, go with it. It doesn't matter that noses were turned up at your table.
  • Get at what matters to your child. Talk about how cooking saves money; discuss how eating local foods is good for the environment, or how good nutrition can help shed those pounds.

Advice is one thing. The power of the purse is another. Keep reading for ideas on using money in the crusade for better nutrition.