Wednesday, December 16, 2015

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Teaching Kids about Real Food

"The most important fact about Spaceship Earth:  An instruction book didn't come with it."  

                                                          --Buckminster Fuller

Image result for pictures of a child eating vegetables

When you buy a new TV, you get an instruction manual. When you get a new video game, you get an instruction manual.  So how come when you have a baby, there is no instruction manual?  

In a recent class with some wonderful 2nd and 3rd graders, the kids were kind of surprised to learn that parents don't get an instruction manual for children.  We talked about how kids can learn about real food and then teach their own parents.  They listened intently when I taught them about why eating vegetables and fruits that are the colors of the rainbows is a clue for identifying real food.  I brought several rainbow foods to the class for them to sample:  cucumbers, orange bell peppers and some beautiful grapes.  

At the beginning of the lesson, the kids were all focused on the grapes.  As we talked and I showed them my really cool tool for slicing cucumbers, they all wanted to taste the cucumbers.  Then they wanted more cucumbers.  One of the volunteers created artistically arranged plates of vegetables for each table.  As the kids continued munching on their healthy snacks, the noise level continued to rise in the room.  Staff at the after school program popped in to see what the noise was coming from our classroom.  All they saw when they peaked in was children having fun, laughing and eating vegetables.  Can you imagine!?!  They were surprised.  They smiled.  They laughed, too!   

Here are 4 tips for teaching your own kids about real food:
  1. When you go food shopping, encourage your kids to pick out a new vegetable.
  2. Google the vegetable to look at the health benefits. My favorite site for nutrition facts about vegetables and fruits is The World's Healthiest Foods: click here
  3. Teach your kids how to cut up the vegetable (when they are old enough to use a knife).  There is no substitute for the hands-on experience of playing with your food!
  4. Read food labels with your kids and look for ingredients that end in "-ose". That is a sugar.  Choose something with less grams of added sugars per serving. 

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.