How to Teach Nutrition to Kids – 3 Fun and Easy Ways
Today the topic of children’s nutrition is hot and controversial. There are numerous theories about how to approach children and teach them this fundamental life skill of cooking and eating. Since eating is a cultural ritual there is no one-size-fits-all method for all children.
But since all children share the common blessings of curiosity, playfulness and natural joy, we suggest these techniques to be very useful when you what your child to be able to manage their one food intake wisely.
Here are 3 fun and creative ways to sparkles your child’s curiosity about food, cooking and eating healthy which are easy, playful and affordable.
Let Them Choose
It is interesting to see how children change their perspective when you let them choose. Choose their toys, friends, clothes and food. Teaching children how to choose what to eat is basically giving them the responsibility to make decisions on their own and stand behind them. When children are empowered to choose what they feel like eating they become much more prone to asking questions and be prepared to remember for the next time they will have another option.
This way, for instance, if a child chooses a food that is not suitable for their taste they will remember the exact reason why they don’t like it and will have a relatively grounded position behind their opinion. On the other hand, if a child really likes the food they choose (which is most often the case when they choose freely their food), they will be much more inclined to like the food, experiment with it and reach for it next time they can.
Whenever possible present your child with several options. For example, let them choose between a stew and a soup or a family favorite. This way the child will not be placed in a dead-end situation with only one option which they would like to boycott. In the same time, they will learn that there aren't endless possibilities and they have to decide what is already available.
This notion can be very educational for children because it teaches them that food is both pleasure and privilege and they become grateful to have options before them.
Let Them Play with Colors
Children are naturally drawn to colors. Green peas, carrots ribbons, radish mandalas – all of these are a sure way to provoke your child’s curiosity. Here be patient with how the final result tastes. Let their imagination fly freely with combining different colors and compositions. Very often children are bored with green salads and stubbornly avoid eating them.
Let them know that by adding and mixing a variety of colorful ingredients they are maintaining their own vegetable garden! Arrange the base of green leaves and then decorate with red bell pepper circles, golden beet slices and whatever you have in hand. Make a salad with all the rainbow colors and the child will organically search for new ingredients to get familiar with.
Another catching twist to a more colorful recipe is to include flowers. Edible flowers or dried petals are extremely curious and interesting for children to use. Let girls experiment with dried rose, calendula and cornflower petals. They are all different and bright colors and can be sprinkled on salads, toasts, porridges and salads. They are actually pretty healthy and safe to eat, too.
Speak with Simple and Caring Words
Although you want to prevent kids from all evil and explain to them all the negative effects of toxic chemicals on their bodies it is very important to maintain a calm and caring manner of conversing.
Most often children remember the emotion with which you tell a story or explain a phenomenon. They are super intuitive about your feelings. So instead of going into deep details about the impact on trans-fats on their poor livers (which is actually pretty hard to grasp by adults, too) choose simple words that embody how you feel about this product.
For instance, if you want to tell your kid not to use too much sugar into a recipe you can tell them that some amount of this ingredient is okay to use but excess of it causes their tummies to ache and bloat.
You can even suggest that you use brown sugar or some other kind of unrefined sweetener like beetroot syrup or barley malt. Combine this principle with offering a choice for your children and they will start to ask questions and learn about the new offerings before them.
In your speech use more gestures and express your feelings. Ask your child to make a special blend of tea for you. When you drink it caress your stomach and say “Mmm, this tea really made me feel good. Do you know that chamomile soothes an achy tummy?” Your child will understand that they made a good thing preparing this tea or you and will offer this to your and others again in the future.
With all the information everywhere nowadays it is not an easy job to bring the theme of healthy nutrition to children. They are often distracted and take food for granted. By teaching children that they have their voice in choosing food and offering varied yet limited options they become aware of the importance of food in our lives.
We can also use the creative side of our children and let them wildly experiment with colorful vegetables, herbs, spices and flowers. In the end, it is very important to establish a caring and simplistic approach to explaining nutrition to them. Using the power of feelings, emotions and gestures is a direct way to win a child’s intuitive playfulness.