Last week was breakfast at school week. During this week the school was trying to stress the importance of eating a healthy breakfast. But not all school breakfast or lunches are “healthy” so it seemed like a great time to revisit those things we do to get our children interested in making healthy food choice not only at school but at home too. Here at Money Saving Parent headquarters we do things like include the children in not only shopping for the food, but in menu planning, cooking and preparing as well as exploring cooking ideas which they have. We also have a “no thank you bite” which gives them a chance to take one bite and indicate “No Thank You” to the dish. Enough tries of a bite and you may be surprised at what they discover they like. Here are some other helpful ideas for getting your kids interested in making healthier food choice at home on their own.
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Get Them Growing Their Own Food
One great way to get children to make better food choices is to get them to grow their own food. The entire process of picking pots out and perhaps decorating them, planting the seeds, watering the plants and caring for the plants through to when they produce fruits or vegetables, is really exciting for children. They benefit from learning responsibility of looking after plants, learning about where their food comes from, and eventually eating the delicious food they have grown. Start off with cress, a cheap and easy way to grow food to see how excited they get.
Get Them Preparing
Children love being ‘grownup’ and being involved. Why not give them a child-safe plastic knife, or if they are old enough, a grown-up knife to use with complete supervision, and get them to chop fruits up for a smoothie or salad. Pretend you are chefs in a kitchen, or ask them questions about the food they are preparing, and let them taste bits of it as they go.
Let Them Play With Their Food
Old fashioned values have us believing that children should not play with their food, when in fact, as children they really should. They should be able to squash it and make faces with it and move it around on their plate. Sure, they absolutely shouldn’t be catapulting it across the room, but kids are curious and they will love making faces or arty scenes with their food.
Get Them Being Creative
One thing kids will love having control over is what they are eating. Why not let them make a menu up once a week? To make it easy you could give them three sections with different choices, so they have to choose a vegetable, a starchy carb and then a protein. Or you could get them to invent and name a salad to have with dinner, or get them to pick the fruit to make into a smoothie. Let them be experimental with the food they try, so their tastes are challenged, and so they have ownership over their creations.
Make Simple Food They Can Enjoy Making
Pressing the button on the blender, mixing the cake, flipping the pancakes – all of these are really fun parts of cooking that children love. Parts that yield results. Why not lookup some pancake recipes and get your child mixing and flipping them, you can then top them with fruit and other healthy toppings. Or get them to be the official ‘blender boss’. Kids love any activity that yields instant gratification.
Get Them Involved In Shopping
Kids may well be used to simply getting food presented to them in a packet or on a plate, with no real idea where the ingredients came from. Getting them involved in the shopping is beneficial for many different reasons, not just with healthy eating. During one shopping trip a child gets to learn about responsibility, where their food comes from, cooking, maths, reading and writing. Simply get them to write a paper list out along with your guidance, and let them pick and choose and maybe even weight the fruit and vegetables out, and seek out ingredients needed as well. Do simple maths with them as you go around, and you might even be able to sneak geography in there as well asking them where the produce country of origin is located.
Lead by Example
Do you try new foods in front of your children? Do you stick to the same old same old when it comes to food choices at home or when dining out? Sure we all have our favorites but it can’t hurt to try something new. We recently tried Sriracha Bacon Brussel Sprouts at restaurant. The small side portion was very inexpensive and gave us all a chance to try something new, to find out that a vegetable we thought we didn’t like actually could be surprisingly good.
Appeal To Their Different Ways Of Learning
People learn in a total of 7 different ways, and it may be that your child has simply not been introduced to healthy food in a way that appeals to their way of learning. Children may learn in a; visual, logical, social, aural, verbal, physical and solitary way. Appeal to their style of learning by:
- VISUAL – Helping them make visually appealing healthy food for them, that is colourful or looks like a unicorn or a face
- LOGICAL – They may simply want to know why the food is good for them or benefits them
- SOCIAL – They benefit from making or consuming healthy food with other people, or maybe by seeing other people enjoy it
- AURAL – They need to hear you talk about the food, maybe describe the food in an appealing way
- VERBAL – They need to talk about the food themselves, and talk about what they know
- PHYSICAL – They need to get their hands in and make and touch the food themselves
- SOLITARY – They need to learn about the food on their own, or do their own research
Hopefully these ideas are leaving you inspired to help your children make healthier choices when it comes to food. Before you know it you’ll all be enjoying incorporating fresh fruit and vegetables into meals as a family, and having fun making them too!