Parents are increasingly aware that they need to take an active role in ensuring that children acquire healthy habits. There is no better way to teach your children how to eat better than by providing them with the opportunity to explore a variety of foods.
The findings from 2019’s “The Malta Childhood National Body Mass Index Study” are outright shocking. Out of a total of over 41,000 4.7-17 year old students, around 40% were founds to be overweight or obese. Of these significantly more were observed to be obese rather than just overweight.
Split by age group, Maltese children are among the likeliest to be overweight or obese as shown by the World Health Organisation.
Simply put, the perfect time to teach your little ones how to eat healthy is right now. It’s important to help your kids understand that food doesn’t just come from the grocery store or a restaurant.
These teaching methods are meant to be fun and creative, such as learning how to make their own treats. There are also fun eating activities for children to learn about different foods and get started on healthy habits.
In this article, we’ll talk about ten healthy activities for kids to expand their relationship with food. We’ll also discuss some things to keep in mind when preparing meals for children.
- Read Good Books about Eating Well
- Expand Their Tastes Through Play with Healthy Foods
- Involve Your Little Ones in the Kitchen
- Learn About Fruits and Veggies
- Grow a Garden Anywhere at Home
- Make Your Own Healthy Snacks
- Make Friends with a Local Farmer
- Explore New Food Experiences From a Young Age
- Attend a Cooking Class with Your Child
- Travel the World Through Healthy Food
Read Good Books about Eating Well
Children are a lot more likely to develop healthy habits if you enable them to make better choices. When it comes to teaching kids about the value of good nutrition, most parents rely on simply insisting.
This may be fine for teaching toddlers, but it generally doesn’t work for older kids. Past a certain age, children begin to think for themselves and compare what their parents say to what their friends do.
There are countless books about healthy nutrition, and it’s important to choose the right one for your child. You might want to check out “Ultimate Kids’ Guide to Being Super Healthy” and “Are You What You Eat?”. There are also younger children’s story books like “Get Your Dragon To Eat Healthy Food” to get them started earlier.
Reading good books to kids about nutrition is one of the best ways to help them learn about food. It will also help you as a parent to learn how to feed your children. Equally, It’s also a great idea to talk to your little ones about the food that they are eating.
They should know that the food you prepare has a positive impact on their bodies, helping them grow healthy. They will learn from your example, and they will feel like they have a better understanding of the issue, even if they don’t fully understand the science behind it.
Expand Their Taste Though Play with Healthy Foods
Nutrition is one of the most important factors in your little one’s health. Your child’s brain needs a constant supply of nutrients in order to function properly. The brain needs B12, iron, zinc, copper, vitamin D, calcium and other nutrients to function properly.
If you feed your child foods low in these nutrients, you risk issues with their mental growth and memory. What is the best source for these essential minerals and vitamins? Fruits and vegetables.
Children can be notoriously picky eaters, but studies have shown that this selective eating is acquired, rather than naturally ingrained. Starting your children off right at the earliest age possible is key. Having wholesome foods available at home rather than sugary treats is the best way to help them set their preferences.
Kids are naturally curious, and this need to learn new things is often seen through games and play. If engaged in food play, children will likely want to continue to explore healthy foods when they grow up.
A great way to teach children about healthy nutrition is by having them experience it. The best way to do this is through food play. Food play is when you make foods look and sound like other things.
This can be anything from veggies that look like a snowman to meals that look like toys. Another good example of a food play activity is to make fruit snacks look like sweets. Children love this kind of fun play.
If you’re trying to get your kids to eat healthier foods, here are three easy ways to do it:
First, play food hide and seek by putting healthy foods in fun places. You can make it as simple or as elaborate as you wish. Try putting healthy snacks in the kid’s backpack or lunchbox, or organize an entire kitchen into a “food-friendly” space.
Second, make it part of family meals by engaging them. For your kids breakfast, try replacing sugary cereals with fruit pieces they can sprinkle on plain yogurt. Or if they love chicken nuggets, prepare a cheaper, healthy version with grilled chicken breast cut in funny shapes instead.
Third, encourage your kids to eat their veggies by making them fun and creative. Have them draw pictures on their plate to represent the colors, textures, or shapes of the veggies they’re eating. Or let them play food coloring games where they can mix their vegetables in with their food.
Involve Your Little Ones in the Kitchen
Similarly to food play, cooking with your child is a great way to bond and share experiences together. You can learn about food and cooking together, and learn the basics of healthy eating at the same time. You can also create a more relaxed environment for you and your kid, while learning about healthy eating habits.
Having a kid involved in helping you meal plan and shop means you can avoid that same cycle of “I’ll just grab whatever is on the table at the end of the day”. If you let them help with food shopping and planning, they can easily become your best friend in the kitchen.
We all regularly find ourselves stuck in a rut when it comes to cooking and meal planning. But there’s an easy way to change that: Make a weekly meal plan! With your little one’s help, plan out your meals for the week, including what you’ll make each day.
Planning and cooking a healthy diet can be daunting. This is especially true if you’re planning meals that contain whole grains, beans, vegetables and fresh fruit. But one thing that can help is to involve your child in the process.
Let them help planning the menu and help shop for the ingredients, and have them help you make the meal.Unsurprisingly, this might even encourage them to eat healthier and gives them a chance to try new foods.
Learn About Fruits and Veggies
If you want to encourage children to eat better, start by introducing them to a variety of new foods. The more children are exposed to a wide range of foods, the likelier they are to embrace variety when growing. Simply, the more types of food they experience, the easier it will be for them to try new ones.
One of the simplest way to achieve this is by involving your children with the shopping process. Take your kids shopping with you, steering away from the sweets section, and get them to make a purchase. Ask your child to choose some fruits and vegetables and point out the differences between them. Their natural curiosity will kick in. They will want to try new flavours, and less likely to refuse something they chose themselves. The results can be simply amazing.
This strategy isn’t new, but it is a great way to teach kids about making healthier food choices. It’s also a simple and quick way to get the children involved in the process of picking and preparing the food you’re going to cook. This is a great way to make sure that the family eats the right kind of food. Additionally, your children will become more accustomed to eating healthier.
If you have a toddler that refuses to eat fruit or veggies, try making some fruit smoothies for them. They are easy to make, and you can make enough for the whole family to enjoy. Simply blend together some ripe bananas, strawberries, watermelon and a little honey. You can add some fresh or frozen blueberries, if you like. If you want to be really adventurous, you can even throw in some raspberries!
You can also try giving your children some of their favourite fruits and veggies as snacks. These are usually easier to eat than the regular meal, and are more likely to be eaten.
Grow a Garden Anywhere at Home
It’s a no-brainer, but the best way to encourage kids to eat more veggies is by growing their own. Even if they don’t always like the taste, having their own “garden” will teach them about nature and nutrition. This will also offer them the opportunity to see things grow from seed to harvest.
Growing up, we had a small garden with fruit trees, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. My mother divided it up among us encouraging us to be responsible for the produce . This was a great way to learn about the benefits of eating alternatives to less nutritious foods. It also provided an opportunity to see how food grows and to learn about different types of fruits and vegetables.
You don’t even need a garden, or large outdoor spaces. You’d be surprised about the range of fruit and veg you can grow at home. For instance, tomatoes, peppers and even fruit can be grown in pots on your balcony or on the roof.
Growing a garden will engage your kids, helping them become more aware of healthy eating habits. It will also show them how easy it is to grow their own fruits and vegetables at home.
Make Your Own Healthy Snacks
It’s always surprising how many parents just don’t seem to care about what their kids are eating. They just assume that because they like crisps and chocolate, then it is okay to eat these foods every day. There are healthier snacks available, and we need to start feeding our children healthy snacks when they get hungry.
The process of making healthy eating choices for kids can be a struggle. To help children make better food choices and start developing good eating habits, you need to understand how they think.
What does your little one want? Kids aren’t very likely to tell you what they really want. They might ask for ice cream or pizza, but they probably just want something familiar that tastes good. The problem is that when it comes to their diets, what tastes good isn’t always the healthiest choice. If you want your kids to eat healthier foods, then it’s important to find out what they actually like.
A good way to encourage healthy eating and avoid overindulging in junk food is to make healthy snacks yourself. One of the easiest tricks to help your kids eat better is to make healthy treats for them at home.
Making your own snacks means you can customize them to suit your child’s tastes and nutritional needs. You don’t even have to have an artsy flair for decorating. However, having a little creativity goes a long way in making your snack items look more attractive and nutritious.
Some of the most popular ways to incorporate fruit and vegetables into a diet are by including them in smoothies, fruit salads or even adding them to muffins. In addition, frozen fruits like berries, mangoes, peaches, pineapple and melon are all excellent healthy snacks.
These are all very easy to prepare and can be frozen or refrigerated for whenever you need them. This means that you can easily plan out meals, grocery shop and even make their new favourite snacks ahead of time.
Make Friends with a Local Farmer
Introduce children to fresh, healthy alternatives before they become too attached to unhealthy foods. A local farmer, your green grocer or veggie vans selling their own produce may be the perfect way to start.
Farmers markets are the perfect place to find fresh produce and get a feel for how local agriculture works. The food is often seasonal and the prices can be cheaper here, which can make it easier to eat healthy.
This simple way of connecting with the local food supply chain can be done from a very early age. Introduce your children to the people who grow your food, and get to know them. This will prove to be a great opportunity to learn about where your food comes from. And of course, it’s a fun way to spend time with your kids.
Explore New Food Experiences From a Young Age
With food, the most important thing you can do is to get your kids to try new things. The best way to get children to try new foods is to introduce as many different varieties as possible.
Your job is to be a sounding board for new foods. Show your kids what you know about food, and ask them to tell you all about new foods they try. This can be a great way to introduce kids to a wide range of foods and broaden their tastes.
A lot of parents will take their children on a food adventure. You could start by buying a bunch of new foods that are fun to eat. Make a list of foods that your kids like. If you have more than one kid, create a family food adventure plan that includes lots of different foods. If you have a child who doesn’t like something, don’t give up on them. Instead, ask them to tell you what they like about it. By doing this, you can help them identify what makes a food good.
When you are thinking about your child’s diet, try not to be too restrictive. Many parents are concerned with the amount of calories their child is consuming. However, this isn’t always the best way to go about it. Children who eat healthy grow happier and stronger and it’s in your best interest to ensure they eat well.
Attend a Cooking Class with Your Child
There are lots of things you can do to improve your child’s eating habits. Nothing is more important than starting to eat food in a way that they learn to love. This starts with a good meal at home—but we all know that’s not always the case. We get parents telling us constantly that their children refuse to eat anything other than pasta or sandwiches. The truth is, though, that your child’s palate will change and expand as they get older.
You can use food and cooking as the basis for teaching your child about different cuisines, tastes, and flavors. It’s an important tool to help kids learn how to appreciate food and have new experiences.
Parents often hesitate to get kids involved in cooking because of all the messy and time-consuming aspects of it. However, there’s more than one way to help your kids enjoy making meals and learning more about what they’re eating. You might consider taking up one of the many cooking classes available in Malta with your child.
These fun and educational cooking lessons are a great way to introduce kids to new foods and expand their palates. Your children will explore, learn and they can get hands-on experience to cook a variety of their favourite dishes.
Cooking is a great activity to do together. It’s fun and creative, and it gives you the opportunity to spend time together.
Travel the World Through Healthy Food
We all know the benefits of traveling to other countries and experiencing new cultures, especially for children. There are some great things you can do with your kids that will make it a memorable learning experience.
When you travel with your children,make it a point to try different types of foods and cuisine. Eat at a local restaurant, avoid the same chains you find anywhere or the same food you get to eat back home. Let your kids experience foods that they’ve never tried before, by making the discovery part of the trip’s magic.
Additionally, you don’t even need to board a plane to accomplish this. Doubling as a family adventure, get to “tour the world” by trying different ethnic cuisines whenever eating at a restaurant or ordering a delivery. You get to oversee they order healthier options, straying away from the usual pizza night and expanding their palate.
The more variety you give to your kids the more curious they’re going to be. Children love learning new things. If exposed to a wide variety of different tastes they will have a deeper appreciation and enjoy them more. Discovering the world through food helps children understand it’s diversity, and develop an interest in other countries and cultures.
When your kids eat right, they’re more active and less likely to be overweight. And, when kids eat better foods, they’re more likely to do well in school, develop healthy friendships, and grow up to be adults who lead productive, happy lives.
So, how do you get started? It all starts with choosing the right foods. The foods that you serve your children are not only a huge part of their diet, but they also make up most of the food they will eat for the next few years.
If you’re still struggling with enabling the right food choices for your children, reach out to us at Plan H. Our healthy eating meal plans, made with 100% wholesome foods aren’t reserved for adults alone, and can be tailored to meet your child’s requirements.
Share this article with a friend who might find it helpful to get their child started right on the path to healthy living!