While you’re probably pretty good at understanding a concept after you hear it, your kids – or grandkids – process new information very differently. Kids are more naturally kinesthetic and visual – they want to touch and see what you’re telling them.
Keeping this in mind, here are some projects to do with your kids to put them on the road to a lifetime of choosing, and actually preferring! – healthy foods.
Be Out Standing In A Field: Take the kids to tour an organic farm. It’s one thing to see carrots, peeled and sealed in a plastic bag on the kitchen counter. It’s a completely different thing to stand in rich loamy earth and pull a carrot out of the ground. Or pluck blueberries from a bush and put as many in your pail as you put in your mouth. Or see how easily the vine releases a scarlet tomato when it’s ripe for the picking. Walking through the fields and groves of local farms will help kids feel a new respect for where their food comes from – and might even make them want to try their hand at growing something.
A Feast for the Eyes Ends Up in the Tummy: Knowing that the things that are most accessible are probably the first thing the kids will reach for, reserve the front of your refrigerator and cupboards for the healthy foods you want them to eat. A grove of broccoli “trees” standing in a bed of hummus; bite size celery pieces; grapes washed and off the vine and frozen; cherry tomatoes – when they’re prominently displayed and readily available, the kids will find the healthy foods first – and gobble them up.
Get Kids in the Kitchen: If the only time your kids see their food is when it’s prepared and plated, they will continue to have a passive relationship with it. Instead, make it fun – and mandatory – that they actively participate in planning and creating healthy meals and snacks with activities that match their age and skill set. For very young kids, “Ants on a Log” is a great choice. You cut the celery and fill the stalk with almond butter, while they add the raisin “ants.” As they get older they’ll be able to use knives, a blender and other appliances with your direct supervision. The important thing is to let the kids have the hands-on experience of creating healthy, nutritious meals or snacks for family and friends.
Show how Food is Medicine and Fuel: For this one you’ll need a stack of family-friendly magazines, scissors, glue and a piece of poster board and the internet. You’re going to be illustrating what foods are important for specific parts of the body, or for sustaining energy.