Big kids and little kids are more likely to try something that they have played a part in. A great way to stimulate interest, participation
and cooking processes. Engaging children in simple tasks is a powerful, easy way to establish good healthy eating habits. It’s perceived as fun and non-threatening. Kids learn best in this environment.
Start with making the visit to the market a positive experience. Encourage children to choose a fruit or vegetable. Let them weigh it, bag it and even place on the conveyor belt when paying. This creates excitement and they look forward to sharing it with the other members of the family.
Get your family into the habit of trying new things regularly. Designate a set day of the week, “Try Something New Tuesday” for
, a meal or a new recipe. It’s a simple but effective way to create a very important life-long good habit
The secret to creating better health habits
Getting the family involved in the weekly cook-up process not only makes your job easier, It also sets up so many great health habits that benefit the entire family.
The whole idea of a Cook up is to develop the skills and rituals that create a large amount of meals 30-50 or more in a few hours or less. It’s something we’ve been showing people how to do for 20 years.
Compile the week’s shopping list by selecting a few recipes from my New Cookbook or simply follow my Cook-up videos. Give the kids a small list to get them investing in the process early.
Set aside time on Sundays for the cook-up. Make it a small event and designate tasks for the meal prep. Put some music on and create fun, powerful memories together.
Role play by giving out the aprons, the bowls, spoons and measuring cups. Not only will they love it but it’s also an indiscreet way of teaching about portions, servings and meal construction.
Just like adults, children need to eat a wide variety of foods for health but this doesn’t need to be complicated. Here are some simple pointers on meal construction for the whole family;
• Often select colourful vegetables and fruits both raw and cooked
• Do mix in small amounts of nuts and seeds
• Try different whole-grains such as Amaranth, Spelt and Quinoa
• Provide protein from lean meats, poultry, fish and legumes
• Sometimes include dairy products or dairy alternatives
• Don’t serve large portions but have more ready if it is desired
• Add fresh oils before serving such as flax, olive, hemp and walnut
• Present the meal so it looks fun to eat!
• Encourage drinking lots of water between meals
Making Carbs Count
Carbohydrates are a key fuel for active bodies. Children need a steady supply of nutritious carbohydrates to keep their engines running. The key is to make those carb selections as nutritious as possible.
Just remember, more is not necessarily better. Everyone can only store a limited amount of carbohydrate and excess energy is often stored as body fat.
Make carbs count with small but frequent nutritious snacks and meals. Whole grain cereals (minimal processing) for breakfast served with milk and fruit. Choosing raps instead of buns and bread slices provide a better chance for plenty of nutritious fillings.
At dinner swap the white pasta and rice for quinoa, buckwheat noodles, brown rice, whole meal pastas and Teff – an ancient grain. That way, you can rest assured your hungry children are getting plenty of energy from nutritious sources. Snacks can easily be based on fruit and vegetable smoothies with small amounts of seeds, nuts and their butters. Try a variety of milks, coconut, almond, oat or rice milk alongside the dairy.
Create the successful environment
No matter what food is in your home, if it’s easy to get to, sooner or later it will be eaten. The key to influencing food choices is to make sure better choices are always available.
If you don’t want to totally remove the sugary, salty energy-rich treats from your household just buy less of them. That way once they’re gone, there is more chance of the better stuff being consumed.
For example, in the pantry make up small containers of mixed seeds, nuts, dried fruit, baked pretzels for those quick snacks when the children come home from school. Store them on the bottom shelf for easy access. Small containers are an effective way to control portions and prevent overeating. In the fridge do exactly the same. Make up small containers of carrot sticks, cheese, celery sticks, cucumber wedges, balls of melon, homemade hummus dip, beetroot dip. Stack them all at eye level.
Remember, ‘doing’ is more powerful than preaching. Being the role model is more effective than threats and ultimatums. Don’t be afraid to delegate and encourage participation to reduce your workload. Above all don’t give up easily, these strategies I have provided will set up so many great health habits and life-long benefits.
With my Fabulous Family Eats Chapter in my New Transformation Cookbook you can introduce healthy eating to your entire family, without them even knowing!