Did you know that what your children eat today can have a lasting impact on their health and well-being for a lifetime? Eating healthy, nutritious food is not only important for a child’s normal growth and development, but can also help them maintain a healthy weight and lead to a better quality of life.
And teaching nutrition to kids is a great way to get them excited about making healthy food choices and empower them to take responsibility for their own health and well-being. In fact, studies have shown that nutrition education can have a wide range of benefits for children, including decreased weight gain, improved academic performance and creating positive attitudes about fruits and vegetables and including more of them in their diets. While many kids may learn the basics about good nutrition in school, it’s also important to take nutrition education beyond the classroom. Hands-on experiences like gardening, grocery shopping, meal planning, food tastings and cooking are all “teachable moments” that can help kids get up close and personal with food and make it easier to practice healthy eating behaviors.
And what better classroom to teach your kids about food and nutrition than your own kitchen!
Learning to cook is a skill that children can use for the rest of their lives. Studies report that kids who have experience with cooking and preparing meals have a greater willingness to try new foods, are more confident about the importance of making healthier food choices, are more self-assured in their ability to prepare foods, and eat more fruits and vegetables. In addition to making kids more kitchen-savvy, cooking can also help reinforce other valuable skills like math, teamwork and following directions. And if you’ve ever watched a kids’ cooking show on TV, you also know that getting your kids involved in cooking can be fun and entertaining! Here are a few tips to help you and your kids get started.
- Work together from the start. Each step in meal planning and preparation provides an opportunity to teach and engage your children. Start by having them find simple recipes, work together to create a meal plan and help make a grocery list. Use the trip to the supermarket to help reinforce healthy food choices and the importance of reading food labels.
- Teach cooking skills that are age appropriate. Give younger children simple tasks like washing fruits and vegetables, measuring ingredients, tearing lettuce leaves, stirring cake batter or assembling a sandwich. Add on to these skills as children get older, and have them read recipes and invent their own creations using a few simple ingredients. Always keep safety and supervision in mind.
- Stay inspired. Cooking with kids is a wonderful way to introduce healthy foods to children, and you don’t have to go it alone. Whether it’s signing up for kids’ cooking classes, attending junior chef competitions, watching kids’ cooking shows on TV or viewing the many online cooking resources for kids, there are cooks in every kitchen who can help!
What are some fun ways you help your kids get involved and teach them about the importance of nutrition?