Parents have a major influence on encouraging healthy eating in their kids by creating a supportive environment and modeling healthy eating. It’s true that ‘kids will be kids’ and eat ice cream after a soccer game or eat cake at birthday parties, but what matters more is what they are eating most of the time. This is where parents play an important role. Generally, encouraging kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, lean meats, plant based proteins (like beans), and whole grains is what is recommended. Getting kids involved in the cooking process is a good start to creating this supportive environment. Involve them in the whole process: planning for family meals, grocery shopping, and cooking.
Research has shown that involving children in the cooking process will make them more likely to eat and try different fruits and vegetables. This is not the only benefit to cooking with your children. Other benefits include: kids feel like they are accomplishing something and contributing to the family; kids are more likely to sit down to a family meal when they helped prepare it; parents get to spend quality time with their kids; kids aren't spending time in front of the TV or computer while they're cooking; and they will be learning skills to use throughout their lives. You can start cooking with your child as young as 2 years old.
Here are some ideas for cooking with younger children:
2 year olds:
When cooking with older kids, make sure to teach them proper knife handling skills. When cooking with any age of children, talk to them about healthy foods and where food comes from. Cooking should be a creative process, so encourage kids to use their creative juices! This will make it a fun experience for them.
Comment below with experiences that you have had cooking with your children.
Let's Move! STL Dietitians