Jennifer Garner Hopes Healthy Habits Will Rub Off on Daughters

08/20/2010 at 04:00 PM ET
GSI Media

For mom-of-two Jennifer Garner, the effort to raise healthy children requires leading by example.

“I think if your kids see you exercising they’ll grow up exercising,” she says in a recent interview with iVillage.

“They’ll assume that it’s always part of life; If they think it feels good to move your body, they’ll want to do it as they get older.”

In fact, most days daughters Violet Anne, 4½, and Seraphina Rose Elizabeth, 19 months, sit down to breakfast with a post-workout Garner.

“[They’ll ask] ‘Where were you?'” Garner reveals. “[I tell them] ‘I was just working out, it’s important for me.'”

The food on the table often reinforces that healthy message. To that end, Garner says she offers fresh produce whenever possible — and gets creative when she has to!

“My big thing with vegetables lately is, ‘How many colors are you going to eat tonight?'” she shares. “Choose your colors.”

Timing is everything, of course, and Garner says there is a definite strategy in place.

“I put them out when everybody is hungry, while I’m cooking and trying to get dinner on the table [because] I’m the worst at that,” she admits. “The last 10 minutes the kitchen goes to hell in a hand basket, [but] that’s when I try to have broccoli, sugar snap peas, peppers. My girls will eat red and yellow peppers. I’ll put all of that out and see what I can get down them.”

Getting the girls to stay put is a different matter entirely, but Garner, 38, says she’s enjoyed success by keeping an eye on the clock.

“Different things work for different people,” she notes, “[But] instead of talking about how many bites you eat, I set a timer for how long you are sitting at the table.”

“So I say, ‘We’re going to sit and talk, all together, and when the timer goes off you can ask to be excused,” she adds. “And so far, because [Violet] has to sit there … so far so good.”

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Jacqui on

Sounds like a pretty good system!

Jennifer on

Great ideas….I esp. like the timer idea. My kids eat raw veggies alot of times while I am finishing up the cooking part of dinner. I think they smell food cooking and start getting fussy…so, having the veggies out and available, gets them to eat healthfully. Jennifer is just so down to earth…I really admire her and her girls are precious!

SadieA on

I love and agree with everything she said here!

Hippy Hop on

Definitely! What parents are doing will rub off to their children. If they are eating vegetables at home, their children will certainly have no problems eating veggies too. That is how we take care of our children, do what you want your children to do.

Sage on

Great attitude. When my daughter asks me why I exercise, I tell her it is good for me, and makes my heart really strong.(and helps me run fast and jump high, which interests her more) I hope they follow by example.
I am going to try the “how many colors can you eat”. Maybe then I can actually get them to eat red and yellow peppers.
Great advice from Jennifer.

Lacey on

Great advice! Children really do pick up habits(good or bad, food or not)from their parents.

Terri on

Sounds like great advice. Jennifer always has such positive parenting tips. Love it!

SAR on

The Garner-Afflecks are such an adorable family, and both Jen and Ben seem to have a terrific handle on what would be good for their girls. My mother would “sneak” vegetables into unlikely recipes, but Jen’s “color” method makes a lot of sense too!

MZ on

Great ideas! I will have to try these out when my son is a bit older. I love her that she puts the emphasis on exercise about it being important to her/about health and not about being skinny too.

torgster on

As usual Saint Jennifer can do no wrong, but if this was Angelina or Katie they’d be ridiculed. So unfair. Maybe if she wants to set an example about exercise, she should put those kids down once in a while and make them walk!

Allison on

Good advice. I am quite unhealthy and so is my husband. I have tried to do a better job with my kids (they are still young), but this just reinforces to me how important it is that we start to eat healthier and exercise more. I don’t want my kids to be like me!

She seems like a down to earth, great mom.

CelebBabyLover on

torgester- Sera isn’t even two yet. I wouldn’t let a child that age do much, if any walking with a bunch of paps chasing me, either! As for Violet, I’ve actually seen quite a few pictures of her walking. I’m sure both girls walk plenty when they aren’t any paparazzi around! 🙂

MiB on

Allison, that should be a good incentive for you and your husband to change your habits! Remember, most of the time kids do as you do, not as you say. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true unless they make a conscious decision not to.

Mrs. R on

Jennifer is a really great mom who always articulates her parenting style in such a likable way. I truly adore her.

As for putting her daughters down to walk… if I had a dozen cameras in my face yelling my name and my daughter’s name and people staring at me… I’d want to be holding my daughter too. For her safety and comfort, I’d keep her close.

Torgster sounds like a troll.

LCC on

I completely agree with Mrs. R: Torster — you are a troll. I have a daughter who is exactly Violet’s age, and sometimes, as shocking as it is, I carry her. Other times, she climbs mountains or goes on long bike rides with our active family. Navigating an airport with paps following you would definitely be a time for carrying a child. Something tells me, though, that my thin, athletic daughter (and probably Violet too) could still run circles around someone as judgmental as you!