Get Your Kids to Have a Healthy Relationship With Food: Let Them Cook


One of the greatest challenges in parenting is getting children to choose healthy foods over junk foods because, without intentionality and some insistence, children will always grab those chips and candies every single time.

Knowing too well that switching children to a healthy diet can positively affect their overall well-being. However, it is always an uphill battle whenever parents push for healthy food while toddlers and teens choose the unhealthy ones, PA reported.

Children develop a natural preference for the foods they most enjoy over time. And, for them to enjoy the healthy ones and be encouraged to take on healthy habits, parents need nutritious choices to be appealing.

How to do this? Let the children learn how to cook.

Let kids learn to cook

Sandi Graham, the owner of Vintage Kitchen, an organization in Scranton, Pennsylvania, that offers cooking and lifestyle classes to both adults and children, stated that the sooner parents motivate their children to test their culinary skills, the easier for them to be introduced and experiment with different kinds of food.

“When kids cook they try new things, they have a more varied diet, they tend to like the things they cook better than when someone else cooks it,” she revealed.

Vintage Kitchen welcomes children to cook meals together. They go through different stations where they learn how to cook and sanitize properly, cut meat, and follow a recipe.

Ayla Holgate of Lackawanna 4H has been cooking since she was nine. She is now 14. She shared that she loves being creative in the kitchen and trying something new to cook.

Bayfront Health also stressed that learning appropriate cooking skills equips children to practice a much healthier lifestyle because of “awareness, training and knowledge” of better and healthier eating options. First-hand experience in the kitchen allows them to put their knowledge and skills into practice as they grow and develop. By the time they reach adulthood, they have learned healthier cooking techniques like baking instead of frying, and they know better how to choose more nutritious foods – fruits, veggies, and whole grains instead of anything processed. Lastly, they are confident that they can prepare their own healthy meals at home, even if it means being on a budget.

Read Also: 15 Easy Breakfast Ideas For Kids

Other tips to follow

Aside from pushing kids to learn and love cooking, parents can instill healthy food habits by following these tips from registered dietician Cari Snyder and other health experts.

  1. Maintain a healthy diet for the family; it need not be expensive or tasteless. According to Synder, there are frozen vegetables in dollar stores with the same value as fresh veggies. One just needs to add sea salts and olive oil, and the flavor will surely change for the better plus, they will accent the vegetables’ natural flavors.
  2. Introduce children to a variety of foods. Parents must remember that kids are not born with natural cravings for junk foods like burgers and fries and a natural dislike for greens. However, the more they are exposed to junk food, the less likely they will choose healthier options.
  3. Choose alternatives. While it will be tough to eliminate junk foods entirely, parents can intentionally offer alternatives – baked fries over fried ones, baked or grilled chicken instead of deep-fried, yogurt or sorbet over ice-creams, or home-baked pastries with less sugar instead of store-bought doughnuts.
  4. Make nutritious foods appealing. Pair peanut butter with celery, apples with caramel, or carrots with hummus. They have sweets and also nutrition at the same time.
  5. Keep healthy items on hand and tempting items out of the house. The more children are not exposed to unhealthy things, the more they will not crave them.
  6. Let children eat more whole foods and less processed foods.
  7. Cook and eat more meals at home. Enjoy cooking together. Children will love to eat what they prepare, as emphasized by Graham. Allow the children to be involved in food shopping and meal planning.
  8. Lastly, parents are role models. According to Help Guide, children’s impulse to imitate is “strong.” Thus, when kids see that their parents enjoy eating apples over chips, then they can emulate that behavior.

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