Issue 19 of Feeding Your Kids
Feeling involved in the planning, preparation and social aspects of eating is both the single most effective tool for raising healthier eaters and the most often misunderstood by parents.
Today ready, set, go…get your child involved in preparing food. If you can not get yourself to actually involve them, pretend will do.
Easiest: have them wash the fruit (playing in water) or spin the salad in the spinner.
☺ Advanced: have them check if the meal has enough spices. Easiest to do with salt, but wait until your child will say: “Mom, it needs a little more cumin and ginger!”
We know it takes extra effort to involve your kids and it’s a messy proposition. Why is it worth it? Kids love to cook – it’s a form of exploration and role playing. Pretend or real, it will result in a positive connection with the food. Involving them is practicing to make better choices, for the time comes very soon when they will make food decisions outside the home.
Involving your kids inevitably leads to ☺Ah-a moments: Wait until your child serves herself from the greenest of vegetables without any prompting from you (because she picked it in the store), reads a label in the store and suggests to upgrade it for a better option, strikes up a conversation with a farmer at the market and suggests a new vegetable to try.
If you are thinking: If my kids are involved in food preparation, we just end up with bigger mess and worse looking or tasting food in longer time. Come on.
Try this instead: I am inviting my kids to be a participating member of the family. Learning to make a positive contribution is a reward in itself, but when they are involved, they are invested in the outcome. They will find more complicated tasks of preparing food on their own eventually much easier and they will navigate teenage eating better. Slightly crooked looking food tastes even better!
Next we will talk about how sugar sneaks up on us.