Teaching young children about food is important. Many countries are facing rising obesity levels and the people and a loss of basic cooking skills, which can lead to an over-reliance on processed foods.
So how can you help your children develop a healthy attitude toward food that can benefit them for the rest of their lives?
Talk about balance
It’s easy to fall into the trap of demonizing foods or food groups. The truth is, that a balanced diet doesn’t necessarily need to remove any types of foods. So rather than making things good, or bad, talk about how it’s fine to have what you’d consider ‘treats’, as long as that’s not all you’re eating.
Plus, kids being the way they are, if you tell kids that they shouldn’t eat something, that’s all they’re going to want to eat.
Get them involved with cooking
Involving children in the preparation of food is a fantastic way to develop their cooking skills, spend quality time together and show them how to combine ingredients to cook so they don’t think that everything comes out of a packet or box.
You can be doing this from a very young age, starting with baking recipes such as a yummy chocolate chip cookie recipe or scones, and then be working up to more complicated recipes as they get older and are able to do more.
Expose them to different types of cuisines and food
We’re lucky enough to live in a world where we have knowledge and access to lots of varieties of food, spices, and recipes from all over the planet. As a family, ditch the usual meals from time to time and try something a little different. You never know, you might find a new favorite. Try and step out of your comfort zone when it comes to food. Some things you may not like, but you can at least say that you’ve tried them, and it’s good for kids to see you do this.
Teach them about nutrition
As we mentioned before, demonizing foods can give children complicated feelings when it comes to eating. Feelings of guilt and shame over enjoying things that they’ve been taught are bad. Focus on teaching children how food is used by their body, and how certain foods can make them feel stronger or better.
Don’t use food as a reward or punishment
Almost every parent will admit to bribing kids with a tasty snack at some point. Try not to do this. Don’t force them to eat vegetables by offering them dessert as a reward, it reinforces that vegetables are something to be ‘endured’ and that desserts are better.
Teaching children good habits early can mean that they have a healthy relationship with all kinds of food right through their lives, which can benefit both their physical and mental health. It isn’t always easy to do this with children as they can be very picky when it comes to getting them to eat things, but any little victories you have will be worth it.