It’s a long-running joke among parents that getting children to eat their vegetables requires (for the most part) one part blackmail and two parts tears and tantrums. Young children are notoriously picky eaters, which makes getting their five a day a feat akin to climbing Everest in stilettos. Teaching your children about nutrition can seem daunting. The best way to approach this task? With a sense of adventure, and a large helping of patience.
Teaching kids about healthy foods involves a lot more than merely “Eat your vegetables, or else”
The term ‘healthy foods’ is one fraught with conflicted meaning. In fact, it means different things to everyone. Some people may associate it with a low carb, ‘Banting’ diet, while others may immediately think meat-free, dairy-free, or raw.
Regardless of what ‘healthy foods’ means to you, it’s crucial that you approach your child’s education about nutrition with an open mind. Children learn from example, which is why it’s important to educate them about healthy foods for growing bodies, as opposed to labelling any foods ‘good’ or bad’.
A love for healthy eating begins with understanding the vital role healthy foods play in your child’s life.
A good place to start? By explaining why each food group is necessary. Carbohydrates give us energy – an essential part of an active child’s diet. Protein strengthens us – allowing us to run around, swim, kick a football and play with our friends. Fruits and vegetables provide us with vitamins and minerals which help to keep our bodies fit, strong and healthy.
A vegetable garden is a great place for children to learn about the wonders of healthy foods.
Planting, nurturing and harvesting veggies like tomatoes, lettuce and carrots – which are all relatively easy to grow – teaches children that these foods are alive with goodness. Witnessing the process of a plant turn from seedling into an ingredient for supper is a powerful way of teaching them to appreciate food as something that’s full of wonder. If children are able to see this first hand, they’re far less likely to look at vegetables as the least desirable part of their meal.
Teach your children that the kitchen is a magical place that should be approached with care.
A crucial part of teaching your children about healthy foods is to teach them about kitchen health and safety. The kitchen is a place where magic happens – where colourful ingredients get turned into delicious meals. Like any place of wonderment, teach your children to respect the kitchen. Point out potential dangers and explain why these need to be used carefully. Stove tops, ovens and gas stoves are all amazing appliances, but when used without supervision can result in some nasty accidents.
Cooking healthy foods together is a great way to teach your children about hygiene, too.
Making the preparation of a meal a family affair is good way to teach children about the importance of hygiene in the kitchen. Children learn by doing, which is why time spent in the kitchen can provide them with invaluable lessons that will last them a lifetime. In addition, school them on storing food too. All leftovers need to go in the fridge to prevent flies, ants and cockroaches from joining in the fun.
Image Credit: David Griffen