March is nutrition month. This year’s theme is about unlocking the potential of food to nourish our bodies, heal, prevent, and discover new foods. As a mom of two girls, I know the struggles with feeding kids. You are not alone. Trust me, I have gone through some difficult stages feeding my girls. Feeding kids is challenging. However, I have been able to use some of my dietitian TRICKS to make meal times easier and help my girls make healthier choices (I hope). Getting kids involved in their food in some way is my number one tip to help kids try new foods and make healthier food choices. Let’s take a look at 5 tips on how you can help kids discover new foods.
Invite them in the kitchen:
I am a strong advocate for getting kids in the kitchen. It’s never too early to capitalize on the curious minds and introduce the art of cooking to kids. Sadly, many people lack confidence in the kitchen. Cooking is a basic life skill that is essential to healthy eating. There are many benefits to inviting your kids in the kitchen.
Research shows that by encouraging kids to get involved in their food increases their palate. The kitchen will be a bit messier and it will take longer to get dinner on the table but trust me the benefits are worth the headache. My girls are always eager to roll up their sleeves and help out in the kitchen. Your child is more likely to try food that he/she has helped prepare.
Kid friendly activities include:
2-3 years old allow them to wash produce, tear salad greens, help pour dry ingredients.
3-4 year olds toss salad ingredients, pour dry ingredients for pancakes or cookies.
4-6 year olds mix salad dressing ingredients, measure dry and wet ingredients, and help set the table.
6-8 year olds – make a simple breakfast, set the table, combine ingredients.
8-12 year olds- make a salad, make their own lunch, contribute towards the meal plan.
teenagers- bake cookies and/or muffins, make breakfast or dinner, and take an active role in food preparation.
Plant a vegetable garden:
Planting a garden can help increase their curiosity and acceptance for different fruits and vegetables. Let your child pick out their own vegetables, take care of them, and eat them. The girls and I planted our own vegetable garden, I will never forget the excitement when their carrots tomatoes started to grow. Nothing tastes better than fresh grown vegetables right out of your own back yard.If space is limited try planting a couple of containers on your patio.
Knowledge is power. The farmer’s market is a great place for kids to learn where their food comes from. Kids can enjoy food samples, face painting, and music. Make it a fun experience. Allow your kids to pick out a new fruit or vegetable. Encourage them to talk to farmers about their farming practices and arrive early to the market so the kids have an opportunity to talk to these farmers before the crowds arrive.
Take them berry picking:
Berry picking with the girls is always on our summer bucket list. Luckily, the girls are eager to role up their sleeves and get a bit dirty. Taking kids to pick their own berries is a great way for them to understand where their food comes from. It’s also a great opportunity to talk about the benefits of eating and supporting locally grown food. With our berries we made dark chocolate raspberry nice cream and blueberry wholewheat pancakes.
Be a good role model:
Parents play an important role in shaping their child’s eating habits. Be a good role model and eat plenty of fresh, seasonal vegetables. Let your kids eat a variety of fresh, seasonal, vegetables at lunch and dinner. A great way to show kids how delicious new foods is to eat a variety of foods and to try a new recipe once a week.
What’s your favorite way to get your kids involved in their food? We would love to hear.