Teaching Kids Healthy Nutrition
The first time my daughter, saw me drinking my green smoothie, her expression was that of pity for me and what ‘am going through’. Meanwhile, my thoughts were how to prepare the kind of smoothie they will love so that they too can savor the goodness of healthy nutrition. And i invited her to join me….and she didn’t know when she blurted out…..’so disgusting’.
Well, teaching kids to enjoy healthy nutrition isn’t an easy task.
Where and how to Start?
Teaching kids to eat healthy begins with getting their senses involved. Wooing them over with repeated gentle reasoning works more than turning every mealtime into a long lecture or stern scolds.
Get right into it and fast too!!
Help them appreciate that every food they put into their bodies affects them, positively and negatively.
Get them Involved – Take older kids with you to the grocery store or farmers market, invite them to help select healthy fresh fruits and veggies. Involve them in choosing recipes and the preparation. If you get them really invested in the process, they will take ownership of the project and more likely to eat.
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Teach them about moderation – Moderation is the basic principle in healthy living. Moderation is the key. Talk about portion size, instead of labeling foods either good or bad. I believe in food varieties, and kids especially need to benefit from eating all food classes.
However, if you really think your child needs to lose weight, limit portion instead of restricting diet…you can talk to a nutritionist and or a pediatrician.
Teach them about the roles of each food class, examples of each food class, benefits of each food class, how much of each class we need.
I found this to be useful:
- Eat carbs the size of the fist, palm-sized Protein, and fats like the tip of the thumb.
- Even though you want to limit processed sugar, it is wise not to be too strict. Kids will be kids. Simply serve more sweet fruits e.g. mangoes, pineapple, paw paw, berries, apples, banana, oranges. These will help satisfy their sweet cravings.
- Teach them to eat when hungry, not when bored or when tired. They should learn to listen to the hunger cues from our bodies.
Mistake I made in the past: I will pack full, my kids plates, and force them to clear their plates, punish them for not doing so, using television to make them gulp food down.
Preferred Way: Dish only what the child can reasonably finish. Serve food when they are hungry. Encourage them to stop when they are full. Discourage them from eating in front of the television.
Be a good example – Eat healthy, and you can be sure that they watching. They may not join you now but soon. Eat together as a family at least once a day, it provides an opportunity for them to learn by participation.
Make healthy snacks available – Stock up the kitchen with healthy treats, and your kids will eat just that. But as for snacks, kids will surely snack!
Lunch box ideas: Baby carrots sticks, sliced apples, pears, nuts (if allowed by the school authorities) whole grain crackers, boiled eggs, light popcorn, dried fruits and water.
Don’t give up – I added this bullet point because I know that even with the most effort, kids generally will prefer cookies and candies over fruits and vegetables.
But like many health conscious mothers all over the world, don’t give up.
Keep reminding yourself the reason why you are insisting on healthier choices for the kids….you want them to enjoy good health more than you are doing now, you don’t want them to struggle with sweet tooth or sugar addiction like many people are today…most importantly…You are a Mother…If you don’t take care of them….Who Will?
Utilizing the natural, beautiful colors of fruits and vegetables is a great way to educate kids on nutrition as well as assure they are getting a variety of nutrients.
Something to Try:
Try making a different colored smoothie each day of the week and educating the kids on the health benefits associated with each color of produce.
So lets go!
Orange colour on Mondays
Red colour on Tuesdays
Green on Wednesdays
Blue on Thursdays
And a Yellow Yellow Friday
Purples for Saturdays
And any other on Sundays!
Educate your kids on how the color of produce can give you a clue as to some of the health benefits. For older kids, educate on the individual nutrients in different colors of produce. For example:
Red produce often contains lycopene which is good for heart health!
Orange and yellow produce may contain carotenoids which help your immune system and improve your eyesight!
Green fruits and veggies often contain vitamin K which helps build strong bones!
Blue and purple fruits and veggies often contain anthocyanins that can improve your memory!
White produce usually has lots of fiber that is good for your digestion!
For younger kids, keep it simple:
Red fruits and veggies make your heart healthy!
Orange veggies help you see better!
Yellow veggies keep you from getting sick!
Green foods make you strong!
Blue and purple fruits and veggies make you smarter!
White veggies make your tummy feel better!