- 3 mins
Children’s Nutrition – Teaching Healthy Eating to Kids
Children, especially younger ones, often put up a fight when faced with vegetables on their plate—especially green, leafy vegetables. Nutrition, of course, means much more than “eat your vegetables,” but because children are early in the process of forming healthy nutritional habits, it’s important to guide them to discover the benefits of a well-balanced diet.
While there is a trove of valuable nutritional information to teach children, modeling healthy eating habits for children remains one of the most important elements in helping them develop a strong understanding of good nutrition.
Furthermore, observes registered dietician Carly Downing, recent studies provide evidence that kids who cook tend to have better diets.
“Showing kids how to cook by getting them involved – hands-on is a great way to keep them interested! They like the independence of it, too. In addition, technology gives us more access to cooking tutorial videos, how to read nutrition labels, recipe ideas, and more in a simple way for kids to understand.”
Modeling healthy eating habits and getting children involved in the kitchen are two big steps. Knowing what to cook is another piece of the puzzle. According to Carly, some core ideas about nutrition have shifted over the past decade. The phasing out of processed foods in favor of whole foods, limiting sugary fruit juices and exploring dairy milk alternatives have become mainstream in most areas.
“For example, over the years we’ve been taught to drink cow’s milk for strong bones because it contains calcium and vitamin D. However, milk actually has higher lactose and calorie content compared to some other rich sources of calcium, such as yogurt, almonds, sweet potatoes, edamame, and broccoli.”
With research constantly exploring new avenues of thought concerning nutrition, the best thing to do is have a plan in place for cooking nutritious meals with your child. Do this even if it is just one or two nights per week, too.
Children’s Nutrition – Tips to Get Kids Involved in the Kitchen
Know what to look for at the grocery store.
Take your child with you and piece together a menu that they can get excited about! There is some truth to the advice to shop the perimeter aisles. That’s where the vegetables and other fresh, unprocessed foods will tend to be.
It’s okay to indulge in a dessert or something sweet once in a while.
just make sure to watch the portion sizes. Seeing that these treats can be enjoyed in moderation will help children understand their place in their overall diet.
Your meals don’t have to be familiar every time. Use cooking channels, blogs, and the internet to find new recipes and methods of preparing dishes.
Try to eat together.
If you’re preparing lunch for the school day, this more than likely can’t be done. Try to have a family dinner after you and your child have cooked together, though. Share ideas about what you like about a dish, what you dislike, and what you’d like to try next time.
Check out our blog, The 4 Pillars of a Healthy Child, to learn more ways to ensure your child is as healthy as can be!