My top tips for inspiring your children to develop a positive relationship with food:
Inspiring our younger generation to develop a positive relationship with healthy food is the best gift we can give them for their own health and wellbeing. Getting them involved in food preparation and being in the kitchen is a fun way to nurture this relationship with healthy eating and can build a great foundation for these life skills.
Cooking with kids in the kitchen is also a great way to encourage them to explore textures, tastes and smells and helps them to feel an important part of this family time.
Kids who are involved in the cooking process are more likely to positively approach eating times as they feel a sense of achievement, pride and positive association with preparing it.
Here are some fun ways to get your kids involved in the kitchen and inspire a healthy relationship with food:
- First and foremost we must be a good role model to our kids. Kids notice, copy and respond to our adult behaviours more than we probably realise so providing them with a great reflection of nourishing our own body with healthy food is important.
- Have healthy food insight and reachable so healthy options become preferred and accessible. Kids tend to be more likely to choose food if they can see it and is within reach.
- Include kids in the grocery shopping. Let them help choose produce, select apples, pass you products to fill your basket, play spot this ingredient or name this fruit/veg.
- Get your kids involved in meal preparation. Some great safe activities they might enjoy include mixing salad, mashing avocado, stirring, pouring, mixing, whisking, rolling balls (such as shaping meatballs/rissoles) or shape dough, using a rolling pin, icing treats, using measuring cups or wooden spoons, incorporating a timer and washing fruit and veg. The more hands on experience they get the better. If they are young set them up in their high chair and include them in the process.
- Ignite their senses. Get them to smell herbs, taste flavours, feel produce, pick up ingredients etc.
- Play games such as “name this veg” or “what’s this colour” or “which veg is heavier?” etc.
- Wear fun aprons at meal prep time to enhance the experience.
- Take them to farmers markets to explore and learn whilst helping to pick out fruit and veg.
- Plant a herb garden or grow a couple of your favourite veggies as they watch it grow and eventually enjoy the fruits of their labour.
- Show them photos of healthy recipes and have them help choose your family’s weekly meal plan.
- Let them be the official taste tester (a very important and proud job!)
- Washing fruit and veg in the kitchen sink filled with water can be a fun task.
- Have them wash your leafy greens and use a salad spinner.
- Cut fruit into fun shapes for them or use a cookie cutter.
- Plate food into fun pictures such as faces.
- Let you children give the dish a name using fun titles like “slippery spaghetti” or “dinosaur meatballs.”
- Let kids help set the table or folding napkins, arranging placemats etc.
- Kids can also replicate what mummy or daddy are cooking by making the same shapes with playdoh.
- Kids love “fun foods” such as fruit kebabs, healthy jelly gummies, mini muffins, dips like hummus or guacamole, mini meatballs, homemade sweet potato chips, smoothies, healthy pancakes, home-made chicken nuggets, popsicles etc.
- Be prepared and embrace mess – you want to keep their kitchen experience fun and getting messy is part of it!
I hope these tips help to inspire your children to build a positive relationship with food.
You can find a range of healthy kids recipes (free from gluten, dairy and sugar) on my website www.livelovenourish.com.au or follow me on Instagram @livelovenourishaus or facebook.com/livelovenourish
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