Healthy kids start in the kitchen!
There’s a real art to cooking with busy 'ankle bitters' in the kitchen. Kids have to a) be interested in participating b) find the process fun! It’s about sharing favorite recipes, tasting ingredients as we go and having fun along the way. It’s also about passing on family traditions. My pancakes have fast become our regular McCrum family weekend breakfast! Yet it’s a forgotten art in many households. For busy parents these days, it’s tough to find time to make dinner for a family, much less include kids in the process.
Did you know that kids instinctually know good nutrition up to the age of 6. That is, before they they are influenced by their peers ( including their parents! ), siblings and marketing. Therefore we have a good few years to get the good stuff in and build healthy cells + health for life. The power of influence should not be under estimated.
As any busy mum knows, including kids in cooking meals requires time, patience, and some extra cleanup. I am the worlds messiest cook after all. ha ha! But experts agree that it’s well worth the added effort to help kids gain skills that they can use their entire lives.
Help Prevent Obesity
It's no secret that child obesity is a worldwide issue. Too many of our beautiful kids are turning up to school overweight. To help children and adolescents avoid becoming overweight or obese later in life, as parents we can help engage in the following two practices:
- Minimize the number of meals eaten outside of the home. Through better observance and control of meals in the house, parents are able to more closely monitor the quality of the food, the way that it is prepared, and the portion sizes for their children.
- Set aside structured family meal times. While it’s not always possible, we could try setting aside at least one night a week to come together and eat as a family. In addition, have children help prepare food so they will have a more positive attitude about meal time.
4 Tips to Cooking With Your Kids
Enlisting the help of my kids to help in the kitchen can be a little intimidating, and cause for a headache. But with the following four tips, we can take some of the stress out, and focus on the fun!
1. Set your kids up for success. Structure their work areas so that they are less likely to spill or break anything and give them age appropriate tasks.
2. Set aside a time for cooking when there are no added time constraints. For example, weekends and school holidays can be a great time to do some fun activities in the kitchen with your kids.
3. The easier a meal is to prepare, the more likely kids will be to want to try making them again. Try starting with things like smoothies, pancakes, pasta, pizza, and sandwiches.
4. Focus on creating balanced meals. Encourage children to serve themselves a variety of foods including fruits and vegetables (even if they won’t eat all of them).
While it’s inevitable that kids will snack on unhealthy foods like potato chips at school or enjoy some ice cream for a friend’s birthday, what’s most important is how they eat most of the time. This is where we as parents play a huge role. It seems that when kids who help with preparing a meal are much more likely to give new foods a try all on their own. Children who are involved in preparation also have a more positive attitude toward healthy eating, and tend to enjoy an increased variety of foods, including those dreaded vegetables!
Outside of the nutritional benefits kids gain, they also gain a sense of accomplishment for having contributed something to the family by helping prepare the meal. Most importantly, it’s a fun opportunity to pull kids away from the television or other electronics, and spend quality time together trying something new as a family.
So give it a go! Throw your kids into the mix ( figuratively speaking ) and see what happens!