For our kids to have a healthy relationship with food, we want them to get involved with it from an early age. This can protect against fussy eating tendencies, and can even help to encourage picky eaters to try something new.
But how can you get your kids involved with food?
Here are some easy ideas to get you started.
At the shops
Many parents dread having to take their kids to the supermarket.
But if you stick to the fresh food sections and skip the soft drink and lolly aisles, it can be a great learning experience for them.
The more kids see and interact with a type of food, the more likely they are to give it a try.
You might want to send them off to pick out their options by saying ‘we need a bag of red apples’ or ‘can you pick out 3 zucchinis?’ Or you might ask them to pick between red capsicum or yellow capsicum. You can even show them some of the exotic fruit and vegetables.
Sound like a nightmare?
An easier option is to write the shopping list and weekly meal plan together. Ask questions that give them a sense of contributing such as ‘would you like apples or pears for your lunchbox this week?’
Another good option is taking the kids to the local farmer’s market. It’s a chance for them to learn what is in season and even chat to the people who grow their food! You might like to give them a small amount of cash each and pick out a few items they’d like to try.
In the garden
One of the best ways for kids to become interested in food is getting involved with the production of it.
Planting a veggie or herb garden is a simple way to do this.
You’re also less likely to have wilting bunches of fresh herbs in the fridge, so it also saves on food waste!
Depending on how old your kids are, you might get them to help pick what you’ll plant, dig the hole, plant them and water or weed them.
This is often easiest to do in the warmer months. But there are some fruits and veggies that you can plant during the winter and harvest in spring. Head to your local nursery to see what is in season.
Want to start small?
Even a window box with some herbs is a great starting point. You can plant some parsley, oregano, mint, thyme and sage. Depending on how old your kids are, they can use scissors to chop a few leaves off to add to their dinner.
In the kitchen
Kids love to help, so why not get them involved with preparing meals? Children of any age can help in the kitchen – it’s just a matter of choosing something that is age-appropriate.
If your child is still a toddler, you can give them some lettuce leaves to tear up or stir ingredients in a bowl. The older kids can work up to chopping, peeling, and eventually cooking their own meal on occasion.
Having kids in the kitchen does mean that it takes a little longer to prepare a meal. But even once or twice a month is a good starting point to get them excited about eating nutritious food.
If you have a fussy eater, getting them involved with food is just one part of the puzzle. If you need support increasing the variety of foods your child will eat, please get in touch with me today.