The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Moms Link What They Eat to How They Feel

Moms Link What They Eat to How They Feel

Shoppers and Trends

June 29, 2008

What Moms eat and how they feel are directly linked, according to a recent study from the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), a non-profit consumer education foundation that motivates people to eat more fruits and vegetables with the goal of improving public health.
“We targeted Gen X Moms because Mom is usually the gatekeeper of the family as well as the primary shopper,” says Jill M. Le Brasseur, Communications Specialist for PBH.
The study, which interviewed 1,000 women between the ages of 24 and 41, all of whom had at least one child under 18 living in their household, found that Moms got a “feel good boost” from feeding their kids fruits and vegetables.
Indeed, 96% of Moms say they feel like a “good mother” when feeding their kids healthy foods, as compared to the one percent who say they feel good for feeding their kids sweets or snacks. Not surprisingly, 44% of moms feel badly when feeding their kids greasy foods. When Moms consume too many sweets on their own, almost half say they feel guilty after. Meanwhile, after consuming fruits and vegetables, most Moms report feeling good.
While 70% of those surveyed say they are most likely to eat healthy foods like fruits or vegetables when they are feeling happy or content, almost half of the Moms interviewed say they are likely to eat sweets when they experience feelings of sadness or stress. Almost 25% of Moms choose salty snack foods or cheeseburgers (or related items) when giving in to negative emotions.
When it comes to portion size, over half of Moms report overeating more frequently at meals that include starchy foods and sweets. Less than 25% of Moms overeat at meals that include fruits and vegetables. Overeating is more acceptable to Moms, on the other hand, when their food choices are healthier. In fact, almost a third of Moms say they feel “happy” after having “over-indulged” on fruits and veggies; well over half report feeling “good” about themselves.
Although Moms are aware of the healthfulness of fruits and veggies, and growing more aware of this fact annually, they are lagging behind on overall fruit and veggie intake. Moms are still consuming fewer servings of fruits and vegetables than the 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommend. However, consumption of fruits by Moms did rise by over three quarters of a cup since 2006, and veggie consumption rose by about a quarter cup.
“We thought that if we could get moms interested in increasing their families’ fruit and vegetable intake that those moms would then help motivate the rest of their family members to eat more as well,” says Le Brasseur.
One of the biggest challenges Moms face is getting their families on board with healthy eating. The study found that Moms are significantly more likely to agree that their households will be more responsive to the introduction of a greater variety of fruits and vegetables, than one that pushes one or two familiar items. This is a key finding for retailers, who can encourage variety purchasing at the store level.
“It’s best to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure we get a wide variety of nutrients each day. Retailers can encourage the importance of eating a variety of fruits and veggies by posting general nutrition information, advice on selecting and storing fruits and vegetables, and recipes,” says Le Brasseur.
Moms could also use some help in the preparation realm, as they continue to believe that they lack the knowledge to prepare fruits and vegetables in ways that their families will find interesting. Still, it’s encouraging that their knowledge is rising – by eight percent over the last year – even if it is not at a level they find acceptable.
Ultimately, moms report that they are eager for help in increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in their family’s diet, and adopting in-store healthy campaigns is one way for retailers to join in the dialogue. The fact that Moms are reporting increased campaign awareness of PBH’s “5-9 a day” and “Fruits and Veggies – More Matters” logos is a good sign. And supermarkets are the top sources for exposure.
“Our research shows that customers want to receive nutrition information at the supermarket, the place where they will make buying decisions based on that sort of information. By supplying Moms with, not only nutrition information, but also selection, storage and preparation advice, retailers can give them the knowledge and confidence they need to act on their desire to add more fruits and veggies to their families’ diets,” says Le Brasseur.
For more nutrition information, advice on selecting and storing fruits and vegetables, and recipes, visit the PBH website at