One of the most important things to teach your children apart from how to read and write is to teach them about diet and nutrition. While Celebrity Chef, Jamie Oliver, may be targeting schools to raise the number of quality lunches provided to school children, the truth is that good diet and nutrition all start at home.
So the question really is, how do you teach your kids about having a healthy diet?
Here are 4 tips on teaching children about nutrition:
This gives a new meaning to ‘fast food’. Make fresh and nutritious foods for them that are easy to reach. Consider serving sizes and prepackaged healthy snacks in clear sandwich bags. Keep raw vegetables kept at their eye level, tempt them with already washed fruits in a bowl or cut them up into bite sized pieces in the fridge which are ready to eat. Pack healthy snack packs such as raisins and other dried fruit, as well as whole grain and rice crackers.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Children often mimic their parents, especially at such a young age. If you are seen enjoying healthy food, then your children will most likely copy what you eat. As you provide a positive role model on the value of having good nutrition, eventually your children will see that good food choices daily equates to health and happiness. However, do not expect your child to like all the foods that you like to eat. Sometimes peer pressure from kids that you know that enjoy eating healthy food can make them eat that particular food.
Positive Dining Environment
Creating a positive and pleasant dining environment that is not rush can assist in helping your children enjoy eating healthy foods. All meal times should be happy times. Relaxing music, fun conversation, and more can set the mood. Any discipline, criticism, or eating while the television is switched on is always going to lead to poor appetites. Setting the stage to create a great mood is important.
Always involve your children in the meal planning process, as they can pick themes like Italian or Mexican. Children can make table decorations or make special name tags to make it a special occasion. Special dishes such as paper plates to make a picnic-like atmosphere or even nice plates can be used. As you involve your children in the meal planning process and give them choices, they will find meal times exciting and will have a good attitude towards eating.
Reinforcing positive behavior has always been an effective technique, and providing praise with good eating habitats will create long lasting effects. Praise your children for making healthy food choices. Do not nag or scold for poor choices. However, avoid praising your child for eating the amount eaten, as this will lead to overeating and possibly obesity. Good statements include “I’m so proud that you are making good food choices that can help you to grow strong and healthy, and be smart!” or “Yum, those fruits and vegetables are delicious!”