Instilling healthy eating habits in children is what every parent wants – but ensuring children appreciate the importance of nutrition can prove tricky.
So how do you spark your children’s interest to set them on a healthy path? Keeping them engaged and making the process fun can go a long way. Here are a few ideas:
Devise menus together
Prepare weekly meal plans for the whole family with the help of your children. Get them to suggest options and provide guidance when needed.
Meals should contain a large part of vegetables, a portion of protein foods (meat, eggs, fish, lentils or beans) and a portion of either wholewheat pasta, brown rice, or potatoes (leave their skins on for more fibre).
Draw up the shopping list
Your meal plans are done – now you need groceries. Have your kids help you draw up a shopping list – a great opportunity to discuss different food products and their associated benefits.
You can introduce games to make the process more fun – for instance by drawing the products you need and letting your kids guess.
Putting groceries away
After returning from the store, ask your kids to lend you a hand to put groceries away. Turn this into a game: Get them to guess which products go in the fridge, in the pantry or in the freezer.
Involving children in the preparation of meals is important. Research shows that children involved in the preparation of meals in the kitchen are more likely to experiment with new foods and eat healthily.
Get them involved in the kitchen and teach them how to clean fruits, defrost meat, or clean fish – this is also an opportunity for them to develop and establish other positive habits like keeping the kitchen clean, washing hands before and after cooking, as well as separating, recycling and/or composting waste.
A world of cuisines
International cuisines do not only provide a great way for kids to experience different cultures – they also expose them to new smells, textures and tastes, while offering another gateway to new healthy foods. There is no shortage of cookbooks or recipes online if you lack inspiration.
Senses to the rescue
Food is a sensory experience that engages all senses. Have your kids cover their eyes and use their other senses – smell, taste, hearing or touch – to find out what food it is. You can turn this into a contest with other members of the family.
'Little waiters' is a fun way to initiate kids to the importance of presentation in food – whether when plating the food or when setting the table.
Kids will have fun impersonating waiters and will undoubtedly find it challenging – nobody said it was easy to serve dishes or clear them from the table without dropping or spilling anything!
All these different activities will help your kids appreciate the importance of food and good nutrition, setting them up for success for the rest of their lives.
Read more about Nestlé for Healthier Kids, our flagship initiative to help future generations eat better foods and beverages, and to move more. The program aims to help 50 million children lead healthier lives by 2030.