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What Can You Do to Help Families Make Better Food Choices?

In our last blog ( we discussed the childhood obesity epidemic and introduced recommendations for childhood movement.  So what happens if students see no weight loss improvement?  It all comes down to the 23 hours they are not with you.

Implementing Choose My Plate for Family Dynamics


 “Old habits die hard?”  But these are young people!  When it comes to diet, are you comfortable coaching healthy eating habits?  Can you provide reputable nutrition resources for parents?  Are you prepared to refer clients to another professional?  You NEED to be prepared for these conversations, for the adolescents’ health, and to be seen as a competent professional.

Create a Coaching Foundation: 

Parents may take these conversations “personal.”  How can we make these topics more comfortable to discuss?  The International Coach Federation talks specifically about creating rapport with your client (the family).  Let’s face it.  Anyone can use tips when it comes to coaching parents.  Create a foundation for the coaching environment first, then provide tools.

  • Build trust and intimacy: They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
  • Be honest using positive terms: “Johnny is performing below average at his sessions.  I think he has great potential and we need to figure out what types of activities he prefers.”
  • Ask to coach the parent on issues that could be considered sensitive: “I noticed that Johnny came in with donut holes for a snack.  Would you be interested in hearing some grab-and-go options that could help his performance in school and in the gym?”

There you go!  Creating these positive conversations builds a platform for more serious topics.  You can observe the parents reaction and learn how to approach future topics like whole family nutrition.

Choose My Plate

my plate

Seriously, check out  This website has so many resources, and it is perfectly legal to refer to it.  You can also refer to a well-respected glycemic index researcher (Jennie Brand-Miller) who writes books about adolescents with type I and type II diabetes and has been cited in several nutrition medical journals.

Do Not…

…Prescribe daily meal recommendations to your clients.  Snack or meal suggestions in line with choose my plate are fine, but do not recommend a meal-for-meal plan.  That is out of our scope of practice as fitness professionals.

Two of the best tools from the government site are the SuperTracker, and the picture of a plate.  The SuperTracker is an online profile, which requires more set up, but gives more detailed information for that person.

But my favorite is the picture of the plate because it is universal and a great visual.  Hey, have your clients hang this on their fridge as a reminder before meals!


Refer And Refer:

Are you still within your scope of practice after looking at  Are you worried about losing clients to a dietician referral?  Relax.  Most professionals are on board with the fitness profession, so refer to a dietician, a life fitness coach, or a therapist.  They are more qualified to discuss diet and goal-setting, and parents need to hear a team of professionals’ advice to help make important decisions for their family.

Who knows, they may even respect you more for your confidence to refer so start talking more in depth with those parents today!

Paulette Kowalski, MS ATC cPT


  • Faigenbaum and Westcott; Youth Strength Training, Human Kinetics 2009.
  • Gavin and Mcbrearty; Lifestyle Wellness Coaching, Human Kinetics 2013.
  • Brand-Miller, Foster-Powell, and Gilbertson; The New Glucose Revolution Pocket Guide to Childhood Diabetes, Marlowe & Company 2004.



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1 thought on “What Can You Do to Help Families Make Better Food Choices?

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