Our quality of life is strongly dictated by the state of our health, so it’s a mystery to me why more emphasis isn’t placed on educating our children about nutrition and diet.
A big part of getting them up to scratch is us parents taking responsibility to model good eating behaviours, as well as devising playful ways to encourage awareness and develop the lifelong skill of making good choices.
We all want our kids to make smart decisions for themselves, right? Well, by arming yourself with some meal-time games, apps, books and tips, you will teach them to ultimately think for themselves when making food choices.
1. Make time for family meals
“Almost one-in-five primary school children don’t eat dinner around the table with their family regularly,” Swan says. “However, meal times are a great opportunity to talk about what’s on their plate, to encourage them to try new foods, and let them see and hear what other members of the family like to eat.”
2. Let your kids into the kitchen
Having kids in the kitchen to help you cook for a party is an excellent way to teach them about food. “The compliments they’ll receive from guests is likely to motivate them to be in the kitchen more,” Swans says. “Even simple things such as getting them to fetch ingredients from the fridge, or to clean or peel vegies are all excellent ways to engage them.”
3. Get their hands dirty
Let them help you plant fruits and vegies in the backyard, or if you don’t have a big space, grow herbs on a sunny windowsill. “Kids will feel proud and excited to eat something they’ve been involved in growing, picking, and cooking themselves,” Swan says.
Fun ways to teach your kids about the necessity of healthy nutrition:
Healthy food monsters – iTunes – free
Join the furry friends in their quest to find all the healthy food, while avoiding all the unhealthy foods and snacks that want to kick you out of the game!
Healthy heroes – Android – free
This one will appeal to the boys … An adventure game that teaches kids about nutrition and promotes healthy behaviours. Yogopolis is being attacked by hungry monsters, who’ll keep destroying everything until kids feed them fruits and vegetables!
5. Desktop games
Food balance game
From the Australian Government Eat for Health website, this game allows children to choose healthy foods from the five food groups for meals and snacks for the whole day.
Fuel up to play 60
Lots of games to choose from for the little ones, which include identifying and classifying foods into the five groups and identifying the health benefit of each food group.
There are many books you can find or borrow from your local library. Kids respond well to hidden messages instead of direct instructions, which they can tend to turn off from.
Some classics that never grow old are: The Hungry Caterpillar, which distinguishes between foods that makes us feel sick and foods that make us feel much better. Green Eggs and Ham shares a powerful lesson about being open to trying new foods. Eat Your Peas is a funny book about dinnertime that will appeal to fussy eaters and their despairing parents.