I wrote this post as a participant in the Eat, Play, Love blog carnival hosted by Meals Matter and Dairy Council of California to share ideas on positive and fun ways to teach children healthy eating habits. A list of other registered dietitians and moms who are participating in the carnival will be listed at the bottom of this post or can be found on Meals Matter.
Although I don’t have any children of my own yet, I am an aunt to four adorable boys between the ages of 14 months and 7 years old. Last summer I wrote about the two older boys, their advanced palates, and their love of nutritioulicious food – one of them loves smoked salmon, the other could eat a 12-ounce steak on his own (and he’s only 4). As a dietitian, I get so much pleasure seeing these kids trying new foods and eating the same foods as their parents. Sure there are times when they make a fuss about not wanting to eat something, but what kid doesn’t?! (I’ve been around plenty of adults who are pickier!)
When it comes to raising healthy eaters, one of the most important things parents and caregivers can do is introduce children to all foods. Providing children with the same foods you eat will open up their minds and palates. Even if they don’t like a food the first, second, or tenth time, if you continue to offer it your kids may one day realize they do enjoy it. And if you don’t offer them something else in place (that means don’t be a short-order cook), they may just surprise you by eating what you’re serving.
Part of introducing kids to food is involving them in the cooking process. I am a big advocate of getting children into the kitchen and cooking as soon as possible. Once they can hold their heads up on their own, put them in a highchair (or Bumbo) right next to you while you’re cooking so they can see what you’re doing. As they get older, let them participate in the cooking process. As early as two years old children can tear lettuce and rinse fruit and vegetables. And as they get older they can do so much more: stir together ingredients, knead dough, help assemble pizza, cut soft fruit and vegetables, and use cookie cutters. (FYI, I have a kids’ cookbook coming out this summer!)
If your kids eat healthy food and play in the kitchen, they will have a love for food that will make you grin from ear to ear.
Do your kids cook with you?
Don’t stop here! Join the carnival and read other Eat, Play, Love blogs from dietitians and moms offering the best advice on raising healthy eaters. And if you don’t get enough today, for more positive, realistic and actionable advice from registered dietitian moms, register for the free, live webinar Eat, Play, Love: Raising Healthy Eaters on Wednesday, May 18.
The Best-Kept Secret for Raising Healthy Eaters, Maryann Jacobsen, MS, RD
Feeding is Love, Jill Castle, MS, RD, LDN
5 Quick Ways to Prepare Veggies with Maximum Flavor, Dayle Hayes, MS, RD
The Art of Dinnertime, Elana Natker, MS, RD
Children Don’t Need a Short Order Cook, Christy Slaughter
Cut to the Point – My Foodie Rules, Glenda Gourley
Eat, Play, Love – A Challenge for Families, Alysa Bajenaru, RD
Eat, Play, Love ~ Raising Healthy Eaters, Kia Robertson
Get Kids Cooking, Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RD, CDN
Kid-Friendly Kitchen Gear Gets Them Cooking, Katie Sullivan Morford, MS, RD
Kids that Can Cook Make Better Food Choices, Glenda Gourley
Making Mealtime Fun, Nicole Guierin, RD
My No Junk Food Journey – Want to Come Along?, Kristine Lockwood
My Recipe for Raising Healthy Eaters: Eat Like the French, Bridget Swinney MS, RD, LD
Playing with Dough and the Edible Gift of Thyme, Robin Plotkin, RD, LD
Picky Eaters Will Eat Vegetables, Theresa Grisanti, MA
Raising a Healthy Eater, Danielle Omar, MS, RD
Putting the Ease in Healthy Family Eating, Connie Evers, MS, RD, LD
Raising Healthy Eaters Blog Carnival & Chat Roundup, Ann Dunaway Teh, MS, RD, LD
Soccer Mom Soapbox, Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD
Teenagers Can Be Trying But Don’t Give Up, Diane Welland MS, RD
What My Kids Taught Me About Eating Mindfully, Michelle May, MD