Kids are like little sponges soaking up all kinds of experiences that in time turn into behaviors that in time turn into habits. This is definitely true when nutrition is the theme and as the saying goes — the younger, the better. In other words, the younger kids are when they begin learning about healthy foods and enjoying them, the more they will benefit throughout their lives.
What to Teach Kids about Nutrition
Kids are curious. When you cook breakfast, lunch, dinner, or prepare for a special food occasion, get your kids into the act and, as age-appropriate, doing simple tasks. Stirring a salad, sprinkling spices or herbs, and folding napkins as they set the table are all fun learning for kids. Typically, 3-4 years and older is a good starting point for getting kids involved in nutrition tasks. Each parent will want to keep a tight watch on their kids’ safety as their skills evolve.
Why to Teach Kids about Nutrition
Kids who eat better nutrition almost always grow up to be adults who eat better nutrition. With better nutrition comes feeling well and avoiding many unpleasant diseases of aging. There is also a connection between better nutrition and normal body weight. For growing kids, this is another big advantage that can affect their emotional health as much as their physical health.
Community Places to Teach Kids about Nutrition
The community is a perfect nutrition learning place for kids. Just think about how many events you attend and errands you run that involve food in one form or another. Each one of these opportunities can help kids learn about good nutrition, especially when they get completely involved.
- At the Grocery Store. Teach your school age kids, and teens, these 5 grocery cart tips to get them practicing some important life skills
- At the Farmer’s Market. Share these 8 great reasons to visit your local Farmer’s Market and be sure to introduce your kids to a real farmer, too.
- At a Restaurant. Have a bit of learning time with these 5 healthy restaurant tips when your entire family is out to eat.
A Recipe Kids Will Love
Like all of us, kids love a creamy dessert. It’s super easy to whip up this special dessert made creamy with yogurt and light Ricotta cheese and made nutritious with citrus fruit. The best part is that even older pre-school kids can help make it themselves with very few ingredients and a big nutrition payoff. Look here to see a tempting picture of the citrus parfait along with handy information about vitamin C and a 3-minute video about how to grow a citrus tree! Here’s the recipe for Creamy Citrus Dessert Parfait that is a perfect ending to any meal or works great as a kids’ birthday party treat.
Creamy Citrus Dessert Parfait Recipe
- Shopping List/Ingredient List – For 2 servings
- Clementine orange or another favorite citrus fruit
- 1 cup Nonfat Greek style vanilla yogurt
- ½ cup Light Ricotta cheese
- 1 long Graham cracker
- Prep Steps (makes 2 parfaits):
- Get out a small bowl.
- Spoon the yogurt and light Ricotta cheese into a small mixing bowl.
- Stir yogurt and Ricotta together until smooth.
- Peel the Clementine, or other citrus fruit, and separate into segments.
- Crush 1 long graham cracker into crumbs. Tip: I put the cracker into a sealed baggie and then use my rolling pin to gently make it into crumbs.
- Using a clear glass, make layers with the creamy yogurt-Ricotta, Clementine segments and cracker crumbs.
How to Succeed When You Teach Kids About Nutrition
There is never a guarantee that kids will grab onto the healthy habits that parents teach them, nutrition included. There are ways, though, to increase the odds. Every dietitian I’ve ever spoken with agrees that leading by example with good nutrition is a powerful strategy and this means to make good nutrition a top priority within the family every day and every meal. Here is more advice from a variety of dietitians about how to help kids develop healthy eating habits.
When will you begin teaching your kids about nutrition and how?