Written By Emily Graham / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
Teaching young children about the importance of eating healthy can prove tricky. Sometimes, the sight of unfamiliar fruits and vegetables can be a little scary, or they may just be set in their habits. Getting little ones away from their comfort foods of chicken nuggets and mac-and-cheese can be difficult, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives, and they affect everyone in the household in a good way.
The key is to make healthy eating fun and accessible. Not only can you arrange their plate to make eating look like a game, you can create fun learning opportunities in the kitchen, at the grocery store, and by taking trips to the farmer’s market. Teaching kids about what they’re eating, why it’s important for their bodies, and how to make healthy choices will stick with them for a lifetime, so it’s a great idea to start when they’re young.
Here are tips on how to help your child learn about nutrition and the benefits of eating healthy.
Get Them Involved
Allowing your child to be involved in the selection of the foods they’re eating can go a long way toward helping them broaden their horizons nutritionally. Sit down together and make a grocery list before you go shopping.
Talk about the various ingredients and what makes one better than another; for instance, choosing whole grain pasta and bread to avoid sugars. Once you’re at the store, you can play Supermarket Bingo - go here for a free printable.
Make it an Outing
Most cities have at least one farmer’s market, and some areas have large outdoor markets every weekend where you can find everything from local honey to fresh eggs and meat. Track down the best markets and make it an outing for the entire family.
Create a fun scavenger hunt for the kids to have them find unusual fruits and veggies, such as cucamelons. Talk to your child about where these fresh items come from and why it’s important to support local farmers.
Invite Them Into the Kitchen
Many parents are loath to have small children in the kitchen where there are seemingly so many ways they could get hurt, but as long as you have a safety plan and teach your kids the rules beforehand, everyone should be fine. Children under age six can do lots of things in the kitchen, such as adding ingredients, mixing and measuring.
Allowing your little ones to be a part of making meals helps them appreciate their food, and it’s a great bonding experience for the family. Give everyone aprons and tie back long hair. Give everyone a job so there are no disagreements about who does what. Teaching your child skills in the kitchen will help them learn responsibility not only now, but also as they grow into adulthood.
Make it Fun
Look at the food you serve your kids creatively and help them see it that way, too. As FamilyEducation points out, arranging veggies on a plate in the shape of a dinosaur, for instance, can help you view mealtime as fun instead of something that must be done before they can have TV time.
You can also pique their interest by infusing cooking into their free-time activities. For example, if your kids enjoy playing video games, suggest they play some cooking-related options, such as Overcooked 2 or Cooking Dash. Just be sure you upgrade your internet connection as needed to handle any added strain your now cooking-obsessed kids place on it.
Teaching little ones about the importance of eating healthy isn’t just about the present, it’s also about their future and how they’ll make their own choices once they’re old enough to make them. Instilling healthy habits now will ensure that your children continue to pay attention to the foods they eat so they can stay fit and happy for years to come.
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Emily Graham is the creator of Mighty Moms. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life. On her site, she offers a wide range of info tailored for busy moms from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.