Many adults have made a New Year’s Resolution about eating; kids are picky eaters but there are some great ways to promote healthy eating for kids. This is another post in the New Year’s Resolution in a word series and today’s word is e for Eat.
One of the simplest, but perhaps not the easiest, is to involve kids in food preparation and cooking. At first, before they are too young to use any tools, kids can help to wash vegetables and fruits. Carrots can turn from something spurned to almost an old friend when kids get to give them a wash and a scrub in the sink. By the way, do you know if a carrot will sink or float in water? Kids can do this quick science experiment when they are washing carrots before a meal. When a little older, kids can use a plastic picnic knife for spreading and cutting something soft, like bananas or grapes. Little Sister loves to help make a fruit salad and eat it all up.
Another way to promote healthy eating for kids is to make food fun. This means being a little more creative. We turned a black bean dip into dirt and planted some baby carrots. This garden in a dish was more than yummy for eating. Eating dirt never tasted as good as this garden. Ordinarily, a food like chick peas wouldn’t become a favorite treat, but this chocolate chip cookie dough transforms them completely. A popular treat, all this needs is mashed chickpeas, a bit of vanilla, a couple of spoonfuls of a nut butter your family can eat, and a sprinkle of chocolate chips. It might not fool you that this is raw cookie dough, but it doesn’t matter, it’s so good. It’s great by itself or used as a dip. Another dip is yogurt with chocolate also known as mud.
As children become more aware of their bodies and begin developing healthy habits, like brushing teeth and washing hands, we can talk to them about the importance of eating good food. We need to let them know that some choices have lots of sugar and so we only eat them sometimes. Bodies need foods that help them go and grow. Have you made any New Year’s resolution about foods and eating for yourself? Are there some ideas you can add to the list of ways to promote healthy eating for kids?
Healthy eating is a new year’s resolution for many grownups and that’s also important for kids but it needs to be fun and tasty. How about eating rainbows?
The most colorful foods are fruits and vegetables and children need to eat 5 servings of veggies and fruit every day. Fortunately, these foods come in all colors of the rainbow, although blue foods are more purple, making 5 color groups. When kids eat one fruit or vegetable from each color, they have eaten a rainbow. Eating one food from each color is the goal for the day.
Kia Robertson and her daughter Hannah, from “Today I Ate A Rainbow”, came up with an easy way to keep track of what children eat. They developed a game using a chart and colored magnets. Kids get a magnet of each color to make a rainbow for the day. Or, you can also make a chart at home and kids can use different colors of crayons or markers.
Getting kids to try something new is not always easy. They may need to be introduced to the food slowly, by giving them time to touch it and smell it first before tasting. If a taste is too adventurous, kids can hold a new vegetable or fruit and maybe give it a kiss hello. It’s okay not to like something after trying a bite. Sometimes, a bite will taste different on a different day. When children are involved in washing and preparing veggies and fruits, they are more likely to eat them, so that is another strategy.
Helping children develop healthy eating patterns can be a challenge but it has definite benefits. Nutrition not only has tremendous impact on the body’s health, but also on the brain’s health. Eating a rainbow is also a good new year’s resolution for grownups! Will eating a rainbow be a new year’s resolution for your family?
For some kindergarten readiness learning and fun for the letter N, how about N = Nutrition? Helping children develop healthy eating patterns begins early. Nutrition has tremendous impact not just on the body’s health, but the brain’s health, too. Children need protein, healthy fats, grains and vegetables and fruits. Now, the trick is to get kids to eat that…
Involving children in preparing food can help, plus they learn other skills, too. Talk to your child about the colors of fruits and veggies. What are the shapes and sizes? Kids use all of their senses, not just taste, smell, touch, and sight, but even hearing. Different foods make different sounds when we eat them, right? And at the bottom of a choco-nana-smoothie there is a very special sluuurp!
While usually, kids are not encouraged to play with food, there are some activities that are lots of fun. One local community play program invites children to bring an ingredient one day every week to make a big pot of Stone Soup for everybody. A few families could also do this together. Kids can choose from a big plate of veggies and fruit to make their own rainbows. Or, give your child a few pieces to create a face on a sandwich.
For the letter N=nutrition “play-of-the-day” can you and your child eat up some food fun and learning?