Let’s Salute Nutrition Gatekeepers This Mother’s Day


photo credit:  Axel Buhrmann on flickr

Mothers contribute so much to the world.  We have a lot to thank them for.  One contribution that is especially meaningful to me is the impact moms have as nutrition role models.

Research shows that a mother’s own food and beverage choices are the single greatest influence on what her child eats and drinks — more influential than any other attempt she tries to make.   So the idea of “do what I say, not what I do” won’t work when it comes to food.

Brian Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell, talks about moms as nutrition gatekeepers. His research shows that nutrition gatekeepers influence over 70 percent of the foods we eat.  They impact the decisions of their children and spouse, both inside and outside the home. They’re the ones who purchase and prepare food, pack children’s lunches, select the snacks and choose the restaurants. That’s a huge amount of influence and a big responsibility!

A gatekeeper who struggles with unhealthy habits and eating choices will typically pass those problems on to family members. By the same token, gatekeepers who improve their habits can improve the health of the whole family.

Wansink describes moms’ role this way:

M = Manager:  Managing multiple appetites, food preferences and eating behaviors.

O = Official Observer:  Observing the eating habits of the family to determine which may need some adjusting.

M = Master Marketer:  Preparing and “marketing” healthy foods in the household.  Moms prepare nutritious meals and help make them appetizing and appealing to the family.

It’s been said that mothers may be the most important health care system in the world. I buy that.

Hope you’ll salute the nutrition gatekeepers in your life this Mother’s Day.

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