How Jordyn Wieber’s Mom Taught Her Daughter Healthy Eating Habits: She Came Up with ‘Her Own Limitations’

07/29/2016 at 02:30 PM ET

The road to Rio has likely had enough stressors for gymnast Jordyn Wieber without having to put a lot of thought into what she was eating.

Luckily, her mom Rita started her daughter on the path toward independent healthy eating habits as early as 6 years old.

“I wanted to start her out on thinking about healthy snacks, so we’d put a chart on the refrigerator [listing foods as] low, medium and high,” she shares in the latest episode of PEOPLE’s Mom Talk. “So [with] the ‘highs,’ she could only have one out of the list — and that would be kind of the more junky stuff.

“I’ve always heard you’re not supposed to completely say [foods are] a ‘never have,’ because that just makes kids want things,” she continues.

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Jordan Wieber Olympic Diet Mom Talk

“The ‘mediums’ were things like pretzels — they weren’t necessarily bad for you, but they didn’t have a huge nutritional component,” Rita says. “And then from the [‘low’] group, they could have as much as they wanted — you know, the fruits and the vegetables and those kinds of snacks.

“That helped [Jordyn] have to come up with her own limitations and know she can have a little bit of some things and a lot of the good stuff,” she adds.

Of Jordyn, who’s now 21 years old, her mother shares that these efforts paid off, considering her daughter now successfully makes her own healthy-eating rules. And while Rita’s techniques were effective, they haven’t come without hurdles for her children.

“It worked, [but] it’s tough because some of my kids, like my son, wanted everything from the ‘high’ [list],” she says, laughing. “And me too!

“Just trying to help them make their own choices I think was important,” Rita continues on a more serious note. “[It would’ve been so] easy to just say, ‘This is what you’re getting’ [instead of] trying to instill some decision-making in them.”

Jen Juneau


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Showing 9 comments

horrible idea on

I think six years old is way too young to deal with a food chart.:( WOW. Yes, talk about healthy stuff but 6???? That’s crazy. Most kids that get real food and play a lot are going to be just fine. I think to talk about restricting certain foods at that age is not the way to go, especially on a chart they face everyday. Makes it an issue they have to deal with instead of letting them be kids.

Arlene on

Six years old is not too young! That thinking is why there are way too many overweight elementary school age children that are overweight.

Hmmm.... on

No idea who these people are but I’m honestly wondering if the mother had weight and food issues at some point. Very food focused behaviors. Not judging, just curious!

Anonymous on

I personally feel her way was a great idea. She didn’t say she could never eat the more unhealthy foods and snacks, she just limited them to smaller amounts while trying to give more healthier choices. Totally reatricting all junk food may only back fire and cause her to want it more, as she gets older, but the there are some who never want it, however I doubt the majority are in that category. Sometimes when we do things all for the good, they can back fire. Most kids want the sweet/unhealthiest choice of foods, eventually.

At least her daughter, Heigh is a healthier for young woman and has carried the healthy way into adult hood. Far better then becoming obese like much of America.

Anonymous on


Merry on

Way too serious. But it worked, awesome! There are only fat and obese kids because there are lazy and fat parents who think processed foods can replace parenting. And cooking at home.

I grew up eating potato chips and candy for lunch. Soda for breakfast and dinner. I promised my kids would not grow up like this. I make everything from scratch. They know not to ask for junk food. But a treat is allowed after dinner.

They also MUST be active. No sodas or juices, except maybe once or twice a month. They dont even care about them anymore and are quick to make a smoothie or grab fruit before asking for sweets.

Kids wont miss what they arent solely given. I hate the word diet. I believe it teaches kids something is always wrong with them and have them wary of food. Its not a monster!

Food should never be a chore.

Linda on

Why did she retire from gymnastics so soon? She’s only 21 years old this year
She could’ve easily tried for a spot on the team.

Karen on

horrible idea- Childhood obesity is a very real thing. No way is this too young to think about making smart choices. Better to get a head start in healthy eating than dealing with lifelong problems.

Anonymous on

Jordyn Wieber is not a gymnast in the 2016 games, she was a member of the Fierce Five of the 2012 games. So, why is she being talked about as if she’s in Rio? Yet again, People, great job for poor writing.