How Much of a Role Model are You?

As a parent, have you ever thought about how much of a role model you are to your children?   Not just how we act in public, handling stressful situations, but also how you eat.

A study was released from the British Medical Journal that followed 24,000 children in the 1990s. They looked at children who were not obese before the age of 9.  They followed up with the children 5 years later to monitor any changes. What they found was if the mother was at a healthy weight, the children were most likely to be at a healthy weight.

Dr. Kelly Thorostad, a pediatrition at St. Davids Children’s Hospital in Austin, Texas said, “I think children learn what they live.  Having parents that have a healthy lifestyle, that have a healthy weight, will be good for the family.” I found the same concept to be true in my experience with my family.

Following Healthy Footsteps

I do all of the cooking in the house. Most meals are made from scratch, which is what my mom did as well. My children are always wanting to assist me in the kitchen. Not only do they have their own aprons, but their own spatulas and cooking as well. My wife won a ceramic egg cooker from a white elephant gift exchange last Christmas, which makes omelets in the microwave. She was excited knowing our oldest son, 9 at the time, would love to use it.   He loved it so much, he insisted on making breakfast for dinner the following night for the family. He was proud of the fact he could make his own eggs in the morning with a variety of different ingredients, varying the recipe each time. After a month of using the egg cooker, he asked to learn how to use the stove top.  He was familiar with how to use stove from watching me but lacked the confidence in the actual execution of making the meal. Now at the age of 10, he makes his own breakfast every morning...and sometimes, he will make breakfast for his brother and sister. His next goal is to learn how to use our grill next summer so he can make burgers.

I have also found the concept to be true with other people’s families as well.

What's Happening Today?      

A few years ago, I attended an educational seminar for high schoolers.  The speaker was talking about nutrition for young adults. Before he got into his educational content, he asked 15 students what they ate for breakfast. Approximately a third of them said they did not eat breakfast, one third said they ate carbs (cereal, bagel, or toast), and the last third said they ate protein (protein shake, eggs, bacon, sausage, etc).  The speaker asked the kids who ate breakfast, who made their breakfast and the majority of students admitted, they made their breakfast. Then he asked, what do your parents eat for breakfast. There was an interesting coincidence. The parents that didn’t have time to eat breakfast had kids who didn’t eat breakfast. The parents who ate carbs (cereal, bagel, or toast) had kids who ate the same.  Also, the parents who ate protein (a shake, eggs, sausage, bacon, etc also had kids who ate the same thing.

I believe the biggest factor is what behaviors the parents model for their children.  The children had watched and acted out how parents consumed their breakfast and that was now being modeled by high schoolers years later.  Now the children are young adults, making their own meals and having influences from friends, tv, etc and still they followed what their parents taught them years before. The breakfast choice was not a one time event but rather years and years of conditioning

What Can You Do?

What you do truly matters for your children.  Your kids will learn whatever behavior you have taught them, including what to eat. If your diet is poor, most likely, your children’s diet will be poor.  If you eat healthy foods, your children will likely eat healthy foods. Not only that, but if you choose to consume healthy foods, your children will also become more independent at making the food as well.   Who knows, maybe your children will make you your healthy meals in the future.


Steven Zahn

ACE Certified Personal Trainer

NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Pre and Post Partum Certified

Dragondoor Publications: HKC Russian Kettlebell Certified

High School & Youth Football Coach

Health and Fitness Writer for


For information on 1on1 Personal Training or Nutrition Coaching, feel free to contact me at


  • Dwayne Henderson
    Dwayne Henderson
    Health is one of the big things we forget when thinking of ways to set an example. Good points!
    May 22, 2019
  • Shirley Pollack
    Shirley Pollack
    Funny enough my kids are setting an example for me now that they are grown up!
    May 22, 2019
  • Leigh Williston
    Leigh Williston
    1 follower
    This is a much bigger deal than it was 15 years ago. Times have changed big time.
    May 22, 2019