How To Encourage Healthy Eating Habits
You can create opportunities for learning about healthy food in many ways besides cooking and eating. With a little creativity, developing healthy eating habits for kids can be a delicious adventure!
Do your kids know where bananas come from? And no, it’s not the supermarket.
You might think that seems like a pretty obvious statement. But in 2014, a study of more than 1600 Australian children aged between 6 and 17 years old, revealed that a whopping 92 percent of them didn’t know what bananas grew on. 75 percent couldn’t identify leeks or radishes, 58 percent couldn’t identify nectarines, and more than 50 percent didn’t know that beetroots grew in the ground.
Teaching kids about healthy eating can be a difficult task. Even as adults, we hesitate to eat food on our plates that we can’t identify or don’t like the taste of. So, it’s little wonder that kids struggle with eating vegetables and fruits, when most of the time, we just say, “Eat them because they’re good for you.”
Do you have a picky eater at home? It’s not your fault. Most children go through a similar phase where they’re reluctant to try anything new or have decided they don’t like a particular food. But there are some tactics you can employ to try and get your kids eating healthy. Try these healthy eating activities for kids.
- Get them involved in the kitchen. Depending on how old they are, they can help put ingredients into a bowl, stir something, push the button on the blender, or even get tactile and knead some dough. This is such a great way to show your children how much time, preparation and effort goes into making a meal for the family. They’re also more likely to try and taste something that they’ve helped to cook.
- Grow veggies and fruits in the garden. Not all of us are going to be able to grow a banana tree in our backyards. But we can grow simple produce such as cherry tomatoes, strawberries and fresh herbs. Food that comes fresh from the garden always seems to taste better. And again, it’s an opportunity to teach your children where food really comes from and encourage them to give it a try.
- Model healthy eating for your children. As those of you with children know, they love imitating what their parents do. Eat together as a family when possible and put lots of vegetables on your plate. Make sure that healthy eating is something they see you do, not just something they’re told to do.
- Make food fun. You might not have much time to think about plating meals beautifully, but a quick search on Pinterest or Instagram will show you how to make them a bit more fun. Try arranging salad ingredients to look like a smiley face – shredded lettuce makes great hair. Or spell out your child’s name in carrot sticks. A little extra time and creativity will delight your children and make vegetables and fruits seem more exciting.
- Cook healthy versions of their favourite treats. If your kids love eating chocolate, make some bliss balls for them instead. Or use a plant-based cheese recipe to make vegan lasagne. You can use sweet potatoes to make wedges and frozen bananas to make a healthy ice-cream. They won’t even realise they’re eating healthily if you don’t point it out!
The benefits of healthy eating for children last a lifetime. Start with these 5 healthy eating tips for kids and watch your children have fun as they learn about nutrition.
For some delicious and simple healthy vegan recipes that you and your kids can make together, check out Cooking With Kids.