Nutrition month: healthy eating for kidsGUEST BLOG - Alexandra Theodorakidis, Editorial Assistant at AboutKidsHealth
A healthy lifestyle, including proper eating and nutrition habits, should be learned from childhood. “How can I get my kids interested in healthy eating”, you ask? Here are a few ideas and suggestions from AboutKidsHealth to recognize March as Nutrition Month.
Even for adults, understanding what you’re supposed to eat can be a headache. Teaching kids how to read food product labels and understanding how many vitamins and minerals they are supposed to get each day is a good start to helping them better understand nutrition.
Review Canada’s Food Guide with your kids so they distinguish the different food groups and they know how much of each they’re supposed to eat.
Involving kids in meal planning is a good way to ensure they're prepared for a life of healthy eating.
Involving kids in meal planning is a good way to ensure you’re preparing them for a life of healthy eating.
When children start going to school full time, they often bring a packed lunch. Kids will be more likely to eat the lunches and snacks they take to school if they have a say in what they eat. Try including some of their favourite fruits or vegetables in meals.
You can also have kids help prepare their favourite meals by having them read you the instructions or measure ingredients.
Help your child think of some simple meal ideas and then take them grocery shopping so they can learn to choose healthy ingredients. Learning to read nutrition labels will help you and your child make more informed decisions at the store. Remember to avoid going to the grocery store on an empty stomach!
Here are a few meal ideas to get you started.
Teaching your kids about food safety is as important as knowing what they’re putting in their body.
Always wash your hands before handling food: Properly washing hands for 20 seconds removes almost half of all causes of foodborne illnesses.
Here are some other things to remember:
- Always clean surfaces with warm, soapy water before and after preparing food.
- Cut and prepare raw meat, fish and poultry on a different cutting board than you use for other foods.
- Be aware of expiry dates; teach kids to use older products first.
- Follow proper food storage. Refrigerate or freeze all perishables (food that can go bad) within two hours of buying or preparing them.
- For more tips on food safety and storage, visit AboutKidsHealth.
Making healthy choices in the future
Teaching kids how to choose healthier options when they’re young will prepare them to make healthy choices for the rest of their lives.
Establish mealtime routines such as family dinners and not skipping breakfast. Prevent childhood obesity by following your child’s hunger cues, such as when they are hungry and when they are full. This way you will help reduce the risk that your child will develop a preference for oversized portions and strong food dislikes.
For older children and teens, teach them how to make healthy choices when eating at restaurants. Remind them that it’s okay to choose less healthy options sometimes, as long as they eat well-balanced meals most of the time.
For more nutrition information, check out the Nutrition Resource Centre on AboutKidsHealth.