Encouraging Children to make Healthy Food Choices (without resorting to bribery!)
There’s lots of great advice out there when it comes to encouraging children to eat (and enjoy) healthy food. Getting them involved in growing, preparing and cooking the food they eat is a sure fire way to educate them. Here’s a look at some of the great initiatives and resources available, which include some fun ways to get the kids making the right food choices.
Get Them Into the Kitchen
Teaching children to cook, both educates and encourages them to make healthy choices when it comes to food. It’s also a great way to get little ones to try new foods, and in the words of Jamie Oliver writing in the Huffington Post “If kids are involved in growing and cooking (healthy) food they’re far more likely to eat it”
Cooking with the little ones (and big ones for that matter!) is also a great way to bond and sets them up with a fantastic life skill, something they can enjoy for years to come. It’s also fun (well most of the time!).
There are loads of great places to find inspiration, advice and ideas, here’s just a few of them:
The Children’s Food Trust has lots of great advice, recipes and videos to help you get cooking with the kids.
Tesco’s Eat Happy Project has hundreds of recipes, activities and videos. There are also downloadable games, crafts and certificates for the aspiring cooks. You can even sign the kids up for a free cooking course in your local area.
Even young children can complete simple cooking tasks, such as rinsing fruits and vegetables, scrubbing potatoes and picking herbs. Kitchn have a great list of activities by age starting from 18 months.
Food blogs provide a great resource when you need ideas for cooking with children, often written by parents who are actually practising what they preach and written off the back of years of experience. Here are few of my favourite go-to blogs.
Feeding Boys by the family food writer, Katie Bryson has practical and realistic ideas plus loads of healthy recipes.
A Mummy Too by Emily Leary shares great tips for stress free cooking with the kids and explains that you have to be realistic about the mess.
Equipment and Ingredients
Kids love making and decorating cakes and biscuits, once you’ve decided on a healthy recipe these cake pans, chocolate moulds, cutters and stencils from Wesco are a fun way to get creative in the kitchen.
For those occasions when time is short you can even buy healthy baking mixes with whole grains, super nutritious ingredients and no refined sugars, like these biscuit, flapjack, pancake and pizza mixes from Sweetpea Pantry.
Get Them Into the Garden
Gardening with kids gets them into the great outdoors and helps to promote an understanding of seasonality and where their food comes from, it also encourages those kids who are usually reluctant, to try the foods they have taken such a pride in growing.
The RHS School Gardening site is aimed at schools and teachers but has some great advice for the novice parent who wants to start gardening with their children.
The Kids Garden is a great resource with a wide variety of articles from experts, aimed at making gardening a fun and educational activity.
Visit a Farm
Visiting farms is a great way to help children understand where their food comes from, there are loads of Farms which provide a great educational day out, both city based, semi-rural and rural. The Telegraph have a great list.
Open Farm Sunday is held annually, UK farmers open their gates and welcome people to visit their farms and discover what it means to be a farmer and the work they do: “Each event is unique with its own activities – based around the farm’s own individual story. Activities during the day may include a farm walk, nature trail, tractor and trailer rides, pond dipping, activities for children, a mini farmers market or picnics.”
If you have any ideas for encouraging children to eat healthily I’d love to hear them, why not leave a comment below.