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Grandparents Help Kids Develop Good Eating Habits

Posted by Trish (Oma) Britten, Nutritionist, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion in Food and Nutrition
Feb 21, 2017
Grandchildren are a treasure.
Grandchildren are a treasure.

Grandkids are a grandparent’s greatest treasure.  From time to time during grandchildren’s young lives, grandparents may have the pleasure of being their caregiver.  Show them how to be healthy, including how to make healthy food choices--an important way grandparents show how much they love and care about their grandchildren.

As a proud grandmother, I can attest that grandkids learn by example!  They mimic everything you do, so be a healthy role model by taking care of yourself and they will learn to value healthy habits.  Use to guide your food choices and better understand the nutrition needs of young children in your life.  Take your grandchildren shopping at a farmer’s market and the grocery store.  Talk about the choices you are making—choosing the juicier oranges or the fresher vegetables.  Help them learn cooking skills, which will benefit them throughout their lives. Encourage them to be active throughout the day.

Take time to share and listen to your grandchild – the time you spend together offers wonderful opportunities to understand one another.  Discuss likes and dislikes of different foods and talk about what they eat at school or at home.  Involve grandkids in selecting and preparing foods for meals, and offer the same foods to everyone.  Avoid making different dishes to please young, fussy eaters.  Offer snack foods that help meet their daily food group needs such as applesauce, baby carrots, string cheese, or 100% whole grain crackers.  Reward them with your attention.  Hugs are much better than sweet treats.

Spend time walking in the neighborhood, planting a vegetable garden, or shooting a few hoops.  Dance, run, and play hopscotch or soccer with them when they’re full of energy—it’s fun and healthy for both of you!

Show your grandchild games, activity sheets and other fun ways to learn about good nutrition at MyPlate Kids’ Place.  For a bedtime story, read The Two Bite Club

The US Department of Agriculture offers food assistance, nutrition education resources, and nutrition guidance for older adults and their grandkids.  Use the following resources to learn more:

Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition

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OldPhart OutIn TheDesert
Mar 31, 2014

There is no way in hell I'll be passing government propaganda onto my grandchildren. I'll read them the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. Then, at the appropriate age, tell them the stories of Ruby Ridge and Waco.

Mar 31, 2014

I don't think I need the government to tell me how to treat grandkids. The government has already ruined the future of millions of grandkds by spending and creating a very "unhealthy" debt.

Jake Braekes
Mar 31, 2014

Once upon a time an organic garden grew at the Great White House, home of King Barack and Queen Michelle. Queen Michelle was so proud of her garden and the sprouts in it. She often gazed over it's colorful veggies while she snarfed down a cheeseburger and fries. One day, the King came in from golf and noticed the garden. "It's Beautiful," the King said, exhaling and dropping his cigarette butt in the tomatoes. One day the Big Bad Sequester took hold and the garden had nobody to take care of it, for our Queen never dirtied her hands. That night our Queen Michelle hugged her two daughters and handed them Big Mac's. The end.

Mar 31, 2014



Mar 31, 2014

Ms. Britten - How would YOU react to the government lecturing you about making a princess cake for your granddaughter? How Americans interact with their grandchildren is not the business of the USDA, Michele Obama, or YOU!


Oh Please
Mar 31, 2014

I love my country so much I'm not going to finish reading this. I am teaching my grandchildren to be self sufficient, and eat whatever you choose, whenever you choose, and however you choose. You see, my kids have raised my grandchildren well, and they don't need the government to tell them how to think.

I am lucky enough to be a naturalized American, coming here (LEGALLY) when I was young. Back then, the government pretty much told us not to kill, not to steal, and other than that, have a good life.

Today there are government drones watching over us. But I don't blame the government; I blame the people. They allowed this to happen.

Another Grandpa
Mar 31, 2014

Get the HELL out of my kitchen and my family!

I served overseas to protect this???

Pissed off Patriot
Mar 31, 2014

Take a flying leap. There's nothing this administration can say that I will pass on to anyone. The current regime has no credibility in my house and the last thing I will pass on to my 5 grand children is any propaganda from the current piece of crap administration and their lying supporters.

Mar 31, 2014

Dear Trish,

This article was parallel to the information I'm looking for but not quite the thing: specifically, I need to know the government regulations for healthy and politically correct toilet training, and I need access to government resources - maybe picture books featuring people who live and work in the White House teaching racially and ethnically diverse toddlers by example how to make important, environmentally sensitive choices while learning to "go" on the "potty".

Either that or I need to join the resistance and help in whatever way I can to squeeze the life out of liberal fascism and its spawn, the long-gone-insane federal bureaucracy you cheerfully swim about in like a carp in a cesspit, dear old granny. My ancestors came to this country to get away from constables and publicans and burgomeisters who demanded their papers, a tax, and a bribe before they would let them so much as gather sticks for their fire. You're not dragging me back there, Trish.

Mar 31, 2014

I know you folks are well intentioned and are trying your best to encourage healthy dietary habits. But, please, quit wasting our tax dollars telling grandparents to read to their grandkids as if the kids are enrolled in a wellness class. None of you must actually have grandkids.

If you want to spend your budget wisely, figure out a way to get more men to stay with the mothers they impregnate. That will do more for kids than any number of government propaganda books.

Mar 31, 2014

I dont need the government telling me how to feed my grandchildren. my 7 kids grew up healthy on what I feed them. If the government wants to help start by staying out of farmers fields and let them sell their produces without middlemen taken all their profit

Mar 31, 2014

Good idea. Are you also going to recommend that the members of congress read the Constitution at night. It seems their education needs some education just like the little children..

Bill J. Canada
Mar 31, 2014

Go straight to hell. You are forgetting your place and just who you work for. What I give my grand kids is none of your damn business.

RG DeSoto
Mar 31, 2014

USDA:Get your tax-bloated nose out of our lives. My grandson and I eat what we hunt. I have taught him to value liberty & family above all.

Buckeye bubba
Mar 31, 2014

There is nothing this incompetent administration has to say that I would pass on to my grandchildren.

Buckeye bubba
Mar 31, 2014

I see that my earlier comment wasn't posted. I guess it wasn't politically correct enough.

Mar 31, 2014

Are we in the USSR, or Nazi Germany?
Do you people realize how creepy this sounds? Or are you just that blind?

setting sun
Mar 31, 2014

what's wrong with you people. What kind of kool aid are you guys drinking, if people are so stupid that you have to tell them how to eat, maybe it's because your programs are failures and people are un-informed and un-educated because of them, but wait, if people are un-infomed and un-educated then you can take their rights without the dumbasses knowing it. This is what liberalism gets you a Stasi state. the government knows best how to raise your kids, if you don't follow party line, next step is taking them away. How have we come to this?

Mar 31, 2014

this Grandfather says "Pound sand"

Andy from Beaverton
Apr 01, 2014

Are you people insane? Despots and totalitarian regimes use state propaganda to direct the public. You don't need to worry about the children who spend time with their grandparents, that's usually a sign that they live in a good family.

Troy Book
Apr 01, 2014

Dear Government,
Here's an idea, concentrate on cutting your profligate spending and doing your darn job as efficiently as possible. Keep your inane opinions to yourself, how I interact with my granbabies is none of your dang business.
Sincerely, Troy Book

Gina R
Apr 01, 2014

Are you serious? A government as nanny is not necessary. We already love and care for our children and grandchildren, now I suppose you'll turn around and claim anything good, as if we would not have treated them right without you? Ignorant f***s is what you are. I agree with OldPharts' answer, too. MYOB Michelle and company. Get your nose out of my business!

setting sun
Apr 01, 2014

Not one postive comment. Do you people understand how angry tha American public is, I guess you do thats why the government is buying up all the bullets and why the police are getting surplus combat vehicles from Iraq. It sure feels like our government is becoming afraid of its people, next stop Martial Law

Another Grandpa
Apr 01, 2014


Apr 01, 2014

When I thought I had seen it all. The government has done such a great job in every other facet of our lives. They must stay wake dreaming this stuff up. Stay out of my family and stay away from my grand children. Its only a matter of time before children will be asked to tell their teachers, counselors and government what Mom gave them for breakfast. We are in very serious trouble.

Apr 01, 2014

You conservatives have literally lost your minds. All the USDA is doing is asking grandparents to become more involved in teaching healthy habits to their grandchildren. I didn't realize that working to improve the health of our children is some sort of insidious, liberal plot to destroy America. You conservatives seriously need mental health counseling, because some of the things you say make you come off as literal lunatics.

Apr 01, 2014

I'll stick to reading the Rush Revere series, but thanks.

Apr 01, 2014

No Mike, we have not lost our minds. We just see the government creeping closer and closer to take over every moment of our lives. The government is spending our money on programs no one will pay any attention to. We are perfectly capable to make decisions on our own about our grandchildren's bedtime stories. We are also capable to recognize the best food for our grandchildren and bedtime stories will not change this.

Sorry Mike but we are not the lunatics...........

Apr 01, 2014

I'm reminded of a woman I know who raised 11 Children, all her own..When one of her younger ones got caught with pot, she was told to attend a parenting class.. The "Expert Instructor" was a 22 year old, just out of college with no kids, still living with mommy and daddy.. You know how that went over..

Grandparents were successfully grand parenting long before their was a USDA -- Contrary to what the government may think, we are the experts at grandparenting

You guys need to go inspect some Chinese Chickens or something.. and stay out of our lives. Most of us grew up when the only governments who told parents and grandparent how to do their job were places like Soviet Russia and Red China..

Apr 01, 2014

This BS is being perpetuated by our communist "First Mooch" Mochella Obummer. I'm sorry but I don't take nutrition advice my my children or grandchildren from someone with an ass that's 3 axe-handles wide.
If they took less vacations and focused on our vets being stripped of their benefits, while Miss "I'm not married, have 6 kids and an illegal, but I can use my EBT card to buy soda and ice cream to keep my kids 'healthy'".

Tylek T'sarran
Apr 01, 2014

A few questions: How much were you paid to write this? How much did your boss receive for making you write this? How many of our tax dollars went to funding the USDA to get this choice bit of propaganda from concept to page, including those 'informative links' and 'associated materials'?

Jim The Elder
Apr 01, 2014

It is reassuring to know most people who come to this site are clear thinking Americans who agree with me. USDA should be reduced if not dismantled and keep it's nose in crops and cows and out of our homes.

Apr 01, 2014

Just when you thought you couldn't possibly despise the government any more than you currently do....

Apr 01, 2014

Who REALLY put this crap together? Michelle Obama's mother?

I don't need nor I welcome your story books full of propaganda. I prefer that my grandchildren learn about liberty, the Bill of Rights, the dangers of an oppressive government hell bent indoctrination. No I will not be a party to your agenda to steal their minds, bodies and souls of those I love.

On a final note, let me remind you that sixty years of social engineering is a testament to the damage that government can do when it sticks it nose where it does not belong. It will take a century to walk back what you have done.

My grands are my treasure and you can't have them.

Apr 01, 2014

P.S.: I'm shipping my grandchildren off some delectable Italian pastries tomorrow. My way of saying SCREW YOU.

Apr 01, 2014


A blog post suggesting grandparents spend quality time with their grandkids and help them learn healthy habits, and almost everyone here is ready to hang the author.

This isn't a mandate by the government. This is advice. Take it or leave it, your choice.

In today's world kids are more likely to eat junk food and sit around and play video games or watch TV or surf the internet than kids were 15-20 years ago (in large part due to advances in technology.) As a result childhood obesity has skyrocketed.

Some people don't know how to raise their kids. They don't know what a healthy meal is. They don't know what to do to keep their kids healthy. The USDA is offering advice for those people.

That's it.

I just don't get the hatred and outrage over someone telling people to hug their grand kids more, and spend more time with them doing things like gardening and playing. I don't get why you people are ready to lynch someone for suggesting that grandparents teach their grand kids things that will keep them healthy.

Are you people really that full of hate?

Apr 02, 2014

Older people (grandparents) used to be given some credit for the "wisdom of age". When "you people" in Washington decide to do something about the ability to purchase junk food with food stamps, then I might be willing to take your advice. Why not start where you actually HAVE some authority? Stop acting as if you need to "parent" the rest of us.

Apr 03, 2014

I do not need the government telling me how to teach my grandchildren. The public school system, endorsed by the federal government, has already done a crappy enough job of teaching our children. Why should we be lectured to by a bunch of beauracrats on child rearing!?? We would all be better served if 95% of all Federal agencies were shut down! Alex, there is nothing wrong with giving good advice on child rearing. I just happen to believe it isn't the job of a government agency to dispense it! This confirms to me just how stupid and how imcompetent those in government believe people to

Apr 03, 2014

Fun fact from the Office of Congressional Research: 95% of all web page comments are made by deranged boomer trolls who will will withdraw more form Medicaid than they ever contributed and at the same time also demand the dismantling of all social programs.

Apr 03, 2014

What this series of comments shows is how well organized conservatives are when they want to trash government. One of the sites that led me to this blog encouraged readers to post critical comments AND write to their Congressional representatives demanding the dismantling of the USDA.

Personally, I'd love to see the ending of agricultural subsidies, but I suspect that at least some of the people writing hate mail would be upset to see that happening.

Alex is right: this is only friendly advice. Is it a waste of taxpayers's money that somebody spent their time writing it? Perhaps. But the much bigger waste is the many, many more bureaucrats at high levels in governments who get paid to actively lobby politicians to extract funds to promote favored industries, from weapons that the Armed Services don't want to products that consumers don't want, like corn ethanol.

Apr 05, 2014

Lol @ Cthulu. The name you picked says plenty about you. Hows that minimum wage job going while collecting benefits and complaining about others doing the same?

Dr. Churles
Apr 06, 2014

Mike and Alex,
What liberals like you simply don't understand is that the government is not our nanny, it's not our grandma, it's not our nutritionist, it's not our teacher. The federal government is spending the future of our children and grandchildren with bloated and unnecessary bureaucracy and programs, assuming roles that belong in the family and in the community. And let's not forget that Trish and her office spent *our* money to produce this. The simple fact that something is good and/or valuable does not imply that it's the responsibility of the federal government to take ownership for it. Liberals generally fail to see how relinquishing personal and familial responsibilities to the federal government ultimately leads to the loss of freedom and liberty.

Apr 06, 2014

It's beyond disgusting that you wasted our tax dollars with this drivel. Get your nose out of my business and your hands off my wallet.

a mother
Apr 12, 2014

1. Myplate guidelines are a dangerous joke.
2. I think grandparents know how to interact with their grandchildren.
3. If my parents needed your advice on how to interact with my children, then there's a problem. BUT IT'S MY PROBLEM!

Apr 15, 2014

Mike, Alex, go talk to your grandparents and see what they have to say. I hope your grandparents have presence in your life. Oh, and BTW Alex, there are mandates associated with this drivel…and, we don't have the luxury of to "leave it"…we have to take it! You should educate yourselves better before spouting off

Apr 16, 2014

Now that you've dumbed down the populace with your government mandated schools, destroyed our freedoms with the Patriot Act, forcing us to submit to TSA feel-ups before we can fly and sneaking GMO's into our food supply, why would we want to follow ANY propaganda from you designed to further increase our slavery????

Dennis in St Augustine
Apr 28, 2014

THANKS! to all you readers and responders. This has been the best and funniest set of responses to government overreach and propaganda I have seen. With folks like you, maybe we do have a chance of dismantling these horrors.

May 01, 2014

Good grief! Over react much? Obviously few of you have any idea what the USDA does. There isn't one objectionable thing in this article. If a Republican administration were seated you wouldn't say a word, in fact, would probably praise their advice. This is just suggesting ways to help your families avoid diabetes, heart disease and some cancers! You are completely out of line in your responses and I can tell you were goaded into it by some right wing blogger or other.

Anna Cesnjevar
Aug 21, 2017

Most grandparents want their grandchildren to have good eating habits. Grandparents know .It is critical that grandparents talk with their grandchildren about the types of food that are healthy or unhealthy. Grandparents can help their grandchildren become familiar with different types of food by introducing them to new items.The amount that a child eats at any given meal may vary dramatically, depending on how fast they are growing.