Educating kids about nutrition
Q: I was a very overweight child and I am determined to educate my kids about good nutrition from a young age. What are your top tips to help get my children interested in food and good nutrition? Thanks, Ali
A: Good on you for wanting to start this process early, as the foundations you set up in childhood can have a huge impact on how your children perceive good health and nutrition.
Here are a few ideas to help keep your kids interested in viewing food as nourishment.
EAT TOGETHER AS A FAMILY AT THE DINNER TABLE
Eating at the dinner table, rather than in front of the TV plays a vital role in setting up good habits. Instead of mindlessly eating, sitting together at the table facilitates more awareness of what you are putting into your mouth, whilst reinforcing that eating is something you do to nourish yourself, not a side activity to TV watching.
Using positive reinforcement for helping with the cooking or for eating veges also instils good habits that will encourage lifelong good nutrition.
LET THEM CHOOSE A RECIPE THEY WANT TO MAKE
Everyone likes having the chance to take charge in the kitchen. The responsibility and creativity that comes with choosing a recipe helps children feel like they are making something of their own.
Choosing their own recipe helps create independence that will carry on into their adult life, leading to better food choices and a love for cooking good, nutritious meals.
ENCOURAGE KIDS TO HELP PREPARE AND TASTE FOOD
Giving your child a chance to demonstrate how responsible they are helps with selfconfidence and trust. Chopping veges, peeling vegetables or stirring the pot are all ways to let kids help in the kitchen.
Tasting each ingredient also sets the foundation for a wide palate and experimentation with food. Being able to say ‘‘I helped make that’’ when the meal is on the table is invaluable for creating pride in their cooking skills.
MAKE VEGETABLES AND SALADS A NORMAL PART OF EVERY MEAL TIME
Veges and salads don’t have to be boring. Try new recipes with veges or dressings to make them taste good. By making veges the norm in your household, you will see that kids will carry this through later in life as a result of the family’s good habits now.
TAKE A COOKING CLASS TOGETHER
There’s nothing more exciting than learning how to make a new meal with your loved ones under the guidance of a good cook. The sense of satisfaction and pride when you create something new is a joy. Better still opt for a cuisine you’re not very familiar with to enhance the learning and the fun.
Dr Libby is a nutritional biochemist, best-selling author and speaker. The advice contained in this column is not intended to be a substitute for direct, personalised advice from a health professional. Visit drlibby.com.
Eating at the dinner table, rather than in front of the TV plays a vital role in setting up good habits.