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Parents often ignore their nutritional needs

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I work hard to make sure my two young daughters eat a lot of fruits, veggies and whole grains each day. I read labels carefully, avoid feeding the girls overly processed or sugary foods, and pride myself on the fact that my four-year-old considers yogurt "dessert." But do I pay as much attention to my own diet - or eat as well as my kids do? Hardly. (My dinner last night was popcorn and raspberry sorbet.)

That's why I was so taken with a recent USA Today article on parents with poor eating habits. In her piece, Mary Brophy Marcus profiles two parents who feed their children organic and hormone-free foods and homegrown veggies but then turn to cola and Pringles for themselves. And, she says, many other parents forget about, or ignore, their own nutritional needs:

Intentions might be honest, but it's difficult when schedules are busy and budgets are limited, says [David Ludwig, MD, PhD, director of the Optimal Weight for Life Program at Children's Hospital Boston], author of Ending the Food Fight.

"There are many factors for young parents. It can be a constant battle against exhaustion. They're overworked, overstressed. And ultimately, we're just as influenced by our fast-food, junk-food marketing culture as kids are," he says.

The article provides a few tips for parents who want to improve their eating habits, and Ludwig also talks about why eating better is in the best interest of the kids:

We use the metaphor from airlines: You put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others. We have to take care of ourselves as parents before helping our children. A mother who is overly stressed and malnourished herself will never be able to provide the best nutrition for her child.

What about you, readers? Do you find that your children eat better than you do? Do you have any tips for fellow parents who want to improve their diet?

Photo by Norwichnuts

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