I was joking to a friend yesterday that I think my 16-month-old daughter sometimes eats better than my husband and I do, so when I saw an article today discussing the 2012 Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation stating that parents have a greater concern for their children’s diet than their own, I realized I might not be alone.

According to the survey of 1,057 individuals (29% adults ages 18-49 with children under 18), 16% of parents said they have very or extremely healthful diets while 70% said they worry more about the healthfulness of the foods and beverages they buy for their children than for themselves. While the dietitian in me tries to make sure we’re stocked with lean meats, whole grains, fruits, and veggies, I’m always extra concerned that the foods Ellie eats are prepared with minimal salt, fat, and sugar and that she has an appropriate balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber throughout the day.

With the insightful knowledge that parents are “more concerned about the healthfulness of the food they buy for their children,” I found the follow-up statistics pretty alarming. According to the survey, parents are less likely than non-parents to pay attention to the Nutrition Facts panel and ingredient list on a food label and that they are less likely than non-parents to say that healthfulness has a strong impact on what they buy.

The suggestion by dietitian and senior vice president at IFIC Foundation, Marianne Smith Edge, that parents can positively impact their own health and that of their children is key. She suggests basing meals on nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole and enriched grains, lean meats, beans and nuts, and low-fat or fat-free dairy foods.

Parents, if you need more information or recipe suggestions on how to prepare healthy meals for yourself and your family, check out our Healthy Eating for Kids Guide on