Dr. Melinda Ruff Explains How Parents Play Top Role in Providing Proper Nutrition for Entire Family

Southwest Ohio Physician Shares Tips on Making Healthy Eating a Family Experience

DAYTON, Ohio (September 14, 2012) -- Getting kids to eat their vegetables is a dinnertime battle that parents and children have been fighting for decades.   While proper nutrition is extremely important for families, there is no reason that healthy eating can’t be fun, says Melinda Ruff, MD of Centerville Family Medicine, part of Premier HealthNet.

“Parents play the most important role in ensuring that a family follows a balanced diet.  As the head of the family, it’s a parent’s job to set a proper example for their children,” says Dr. Ruff.  “When mom and dad are having a healthy snack or a balanced meal, children will want to do so also.”

Childhood obesity is now the number one health concern among parents in the United States, topping drug abuse and smoking, according to a recent statistic from the American Heart Association.   One thing that hasn’t changed: proper nutrition is the cornerstone of growth and development in children.  A diet rich in nutrients is important for brain development, the formation of bones and teeth, building muscles and developing heart health and good cholesterol.  Children who develop healthy eating habits from a young age will often continue to follow healthy diets as they enter adolescence and adulthood. Healthy eating includes fresh, whole foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein.

Dr. Ruff recognizes that families today are busier than ever before, which can lead to quick meals from fast food restaurants after extracurricular activities and other commitments.

“I can relate to having a hectic schedule,” says Dr. Ruff. “But many fast food restaurants are making it easier for parents to make good decisions for themselves and their children by offering choices such as salads, fruit cups and even milk instead of fries and soda.”

Dr. Ruff also suggests that involving children in mealtime decisions can make healthy eating a bigger priority for the family and more fun.  Tips she shares with her patients include:

  • Encouraging children to help make the grocery list and plan meals for the week
  • Taking children grocery shopping and teaching them how to pick out fruits and vegetables
  • Asking kids to help prepare meals and giving them age appropriate jobs like setting the table or preparing a salad
  • Eating meals together, which will motivate everyone to put healthier food on their plates
  • Starting a food diary to monitor what the family is eating daily, weekly and even over time

In addition to setting a good example for their children, adults should follow a balanced diet in order to control their own weight, prevent illness, help digestion, maintain healthy cholesterol and have more energy.

Families who are interested in creating healthier eating habits are encouraged to first talk with their primary care physician about making the necessary and appropriate changes to their diet.  Dr. Ruff also recommends that her patients visit the following sites for tips and information on proper nutrition and ideas on how to make healthy eating fun: ChooseMyPlate.gov, KidsHealth.org and LetsMove.gov.

For more information on discussing family nutrition with a Premier HealthNet primary care physician near you, visit www.premierhealthnet.com/doctor.

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