According to a new study by Stanford researchers, adolescents who have health-oriented food rules at home are more likely to make healthy eating decisions on their own.

The finding is good news for parents who want their kids to eat their vegetables.

“It is important for parents to understand whether having food rules – and more specifically, what kinds of food rules – may help encourage healthy eating,” wrote Stanford doctoral candidates Jennifer Wang and Priya Fielding-Singh in a study published May 14 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Wang and Fielding-Singh found that rules centered around health – for example, only allowing junk food for special occasions; or that a vegetable must be eaten at dinner – may be effective because they emphasize the importance of considering healthiness when making food choices.

Rules unrelated to health, such as no cell phones at the dinner table, had no effect on guiding teens to make healthy food decisions.

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