Most parents understand the importance of incorporating healthy foods into their child’s day; however, raising healthy eaters often takes more than just providing the foods you know are good for them on a regular basis.
To teach your children healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime, it’s important to include them in the process. Let them help you plan the menu, cook in the kitchen, and experiment with the ingredients you have stocked in the kitchen. This will create opportunities for you and your child to openly discuss the food they eat and why they eat it. It’s also a great way to spend some quality one-on-one time with your child.
Not all parents find this discussion easy to start. Some may not even enjoy incorporating healthy foods into their daily meal plan or the process of cooking. If this is the case, you may find that making nutrition a priority for your children becomes a family affair. To help you and the rest of your family take the leap into a nutritious state of mind, try the following:
Select a Food or Ingredient of the Week. Each week have one family member select a food or ingredient of the week. Use it in a recipe you prepare at home or see who can find the most health benefits associated with it online. If you have young children, consider a craft or coloring page of that food or ingredient you can work on together.
Plan a Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt. The next time your family goes grocery shopping, turn it into a game! For older children, have them search for various health claims on food labels. For younger children, have them search for foods that fit into different food categories or colors. Whoever finds the most claims or food groups during your shopping trip wins!
Have a Family Meal Night. We’ve all heard of hosting a family game night, but what about a family meal night? Have each family member pick one ingredient from the fridge or pantry and try to incorporate each ingredient into the meal you prepare that night. Ask each family member to explain why they chose the item they did or what food group it might be classified in.
Build a Healthy Snack Station. Grab a plastic container from your cupboard and fill it with your family’s nutritious treats. Give your children a few different options and let them choose their favorites so that they have a few treats on hand when hunger strikes in between meals or after school. This is a great project to do together because it allows your children to incorporate foods they enjoy and gives you another opportunity to discuss how the foods they are choosing are nutritious options. If they try to choose a less nutritious snack, it also gives you the opportunity to explain why this might not be a good choice for everyday.
By including your children in the healthy eating process, you can help them feel good about the food choices they are making and encourage healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
December 10th, 2011