Getting Kids Involved in Cooking and Eating Healthy
Before most kids can speak they can recognize McDonald’s. An estimated forty percent of American meals are eaten outside of the home. We are seeing the highest rates ever of Early Onset Diabetes, Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, Gallbladder disease, Cancer and many more. All of these have been linked to Obesity. It’s no wonder that The World Health Organization has declared obesity a global epidemic. Here are some things that you can do to get your kids involved in cooking and eat healthy.
Start Early! Fast food restaurants market to kids. They get toys in their meals, they have flashy playgrounds outside, and their spokespersons are characters that appeal to children. You must teach your child from an early age what it means to eat healthy. Starting early is the best way to avoid battles over foods. Young children will eat most anything that is available because they haven’t experienced otherwise. Provide fruits and veggies for snacks instead of processed and packaged foods. Provide water and milk to drink instead of fruit juices and flavored drinks that are high in sugar.
Avoid battles over food. Battling over food can lead to unhealthy choices and cycles. Don’t use unhealthy foods or desserts as bribes or rewards for good behavior. Show this with love, hugs, and praise. Establish a regular schedule for snacks and meals. This will keep your kids from becoming irritable and asking for unhealthy foods in between meals.
Get kids involved in food prep and cooking. Kids are more likely to try foods they aren’t sure about if they have a hand in making them. Have younger kids help tear the lettuce for salads or snap the ends off of green beans before cooking them. Older kids can chop veggies or mix ingredients with a mixer. Having kids help with cooking teaches them to appreciate home cooked meals and a variety of foods.
Show kids appropriate portion sizes. Most children are raised with no idea how much food someone should eat. Meat has become the main part of meals for most families and the portions are huge. The appropriate size portion of meat for an adult is about the size of a deck of cards. Starches like potatoes should be about the size of a computer mouse. Recommended servings of vegetables are about the size of a baseball. Teach children little facts like these so that they can enjoy eating the right amount of food.
Spend time as a family. For a lot of families with children time is limited. There are piano lessons and soccer practice and homework and very little time to spend quality time during the week. Planning meals together and cooking together can provide this valuable time while teaching your children the basics of healthy eating and living.
Mandi concierges for a hospital. She likes too many things to name them all. She recently trained for a short (5K) race at Disney World and decided to continue to a bigger race. She did a 10K and and is now training for a half marathon with an ultimate goal of completing the Disney Marathon next year. She also enjoys her horses, being artsy, and a million other things.
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