It's never too late to start good eating habits--and it's never too early, either.
You might even want to start your own kids off when they're still in the womb-- because a new animal study suggests that our food preferences might be based on what mom ate when she was pregnant.
And that means if you give in to those classic prenatal cravings--like ice cream-- you could raise a kid with a serious Ben & Jerry's habit.
OK, kids will scream for ice cream no matter what, so let's not get too carried away here--but since you should be eating right during pregnancy anyway, let's take a look at the details of the new study.
Australian researchers divided pregnant rats into two groups: One set got regular "nutritious" rat chow (sounds delicious, doesn't it?), while the other was given the kinds of sugar-packed junk that's sadly become the backbone of the modern human diet.
Later, after the pups were born, nursed and weaned, the babies were allowed to pick their own food: rat chow, or junk.
And as it turned out, the babies of junk-fed moms went for the junk... while the ones that developed in rat-chow wombs ate rat chow, according to the study published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal.
Then, the researchers took a peek inside the rodents' brains--and found that the pups born to junk-eating rats had actual measurable differences in the "reward" centers such as opioid receptors and dopamine transporters.
In other words, these rats were already junk-food junkies.
"How ironic that your mother nags you to eat your fruits and vegetables, but it could have been her actions that helped you prefer junk food," journal editor Dr. Gerald Weissmann told London's Daily Mail newspaper.
But let's not be too quick to blame mom... because it takes two to tango.
Moms and dads need to work together and share the healthy habits they hope to pass along to the kids.
That means dad needs to be a "diet buddy" during pregnancy and beyond--and even say "no" to an ice cream craving instead of grabbing a spoon and joining in.