Parents often feel too overwhelmed to prepare healthy meals, and sometimes we just need to prioritize convenience over really good nutrition. As a parent, I completely get it. But I also invite you to rethink the notion that healthy eating has to be a trade-off between packaged (fast), or healthy (time-consuming). It’s possible to have both, and your children can be key to making that happen.
Here are 3 easy ways:
Research suggests that children who participate in a healthy food selection and preparation are more likely to eat these foods. Think of the opportunities this presents! Take the time to talk to your kids about the importance of healthy food in terms of a stronger body, more energy and a greater attention span – the kind of benefits they can relate to.
- Try it!: When you shop with your kids, point out the whole foods that come straight from the garden; fruits veggies, whole grains and legumes, and discuss the nutritional advantage they have over foods that come in a package, without all of the chemical preservatives needed to keep processed foods from spoiling.
Studies also show that kids who are introduced to a variety of different foods and recipes at home will make healthier lunch choices and select fewer snacks throughout the day. When you make the time to introduce your kids to new foods, you expand their palettes, regardless of whether it’s love it first bite (or just the opposite!).
- Try it!: Try creating a regular routine of encouraging kids to choose a new fruit or vegetable they’ve never tried. Invest in or borrow a kid-friendly cookbook and let them choose a way to prepare it, with or without your help.
Alice Water’s world renowned Edible Schoolyard project has long since proven these results. Kids who grow their own food are far more likely to develop a preference for it. Whether from fresh the garden, snipped from a pot or even sprouted in a jar, encourage your kids to discover the fun and reward of growing their own food as a key to better nutrition.
- Try it!: Encourage kids to create their own recipes using the ingredients they grow in their garden (or choose from the farmer’s market or store). They’ll learn cooking skills and discover new food preferences, while making a positive contribution to your family, something you can all feel good about.
When you get your kids more involved in healthy meal planning and preparation instead of trying to work around them, you expand their culinary horizons while cultivating and empowering a helping hand in your family routine. In the end it’s a win-win both for your schedule and for your health!
Elizabeth Borelli, NC, is a certified plant based nutrition expert, award-winning author, cooking instructor and mother-of-two. Her mission is to help connect kids and families connect with healthy home cooking and everyday food choices through fun and engaging activities and helpful resources. Visit her online at Elizabeth Borelli and Green Sprout Kids.