Put Your Best Fork Forward for National Nutrition Month

Happy National Nutrition Month! This year, EatRight.org is challenging us all to “Put Our Best Forks Forward.” This theme is a reminder that every bite can be one more step toward a healthier eating pattern.

If you’re a parent, you probably understand the importance of being a healthy eating role model for your kids. Putting your best fork forward as a healthy eating role model can help your kids build healthier habits just by following your example.

Research has shown that the phrase “put your best fork forward” can also be taken pretty literally. Did you know that a factor as simple as your choice of serving utensils may help your kids eat healthier? A 2013 study showed that, during a family-style meal, kids helped themselves to 13 percent less food when they used a smaller serving spoon. In an even more striking result, kids helped themselves to 40 percent less food when the family-style dish that they used to serve up their portions was half as big. It just goes to show that little changes, like using smaller serving utensils or reducing the size of serving dishes placed on the table, may go a long way toward helping kids choose healthier portion sizes.

Since the 1970s, researchers have been investigating how these small tweaks in utensil use can affect eating behaviors. Some of the earliest studies suggested that placing utensils down on the table after each bite significantly reduced the rate of eating and the amount of food intake. Since then, several other studies have shown similar results.   One small study of adults even showed that spoon users tended to eat more quickly and consume larger portions than fork users.

No matter what utensil you choose, planning your family meals using MyPlate is one surefire way to put your best fork forward. Aim to build a healthy eating pattern with the right mix of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, grains and healthy fats. Remember, a healthy eating pattern wasn’t built in a day. Small changes can go a long way toward helping your family eat healthier for the long haul.