Editor’s Note: This is the first post by Nicole Henderson, a mother of two living in Atlanta, Georgia. She’s going to be blogging occasionally about her experience teaching her children how to make healthy eating decisions and steps you can take (if you have children of your own) to do the same.
It is extremely convenient to make unhealthy food choices for our children. It is also a lot less expensive to make unhealthy food choices.
Childhood obesity can now be considered an epidemic. It is a real challenge for parents to get their kids to eat healthy. The media and the fast pace lifestyles that we are leading now make it difficult to plan for nutrient rich meals.
Today, about 25 million kids and teens in the US are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. That is nearly one in every three young people.
Teaching children the importance of eating healthy can provide them with great habits as they mature. The entire family would benefit from making this a family affair.
This journey is not going to be easy or convenient, but it is well worth it to save our kids from the problems that come along with unhealthy eating. I have decided to get my kids involved in the process.
Currently, if you ask my kids what they want for dinner they would say French fries and chicken nuggets. As a parent that works full time, this is an easy alternative (but, it is not the best alternative).
With a little education and the feeling that this is something that they control, the food selection for our household is quickly becoming an activity that my kids feel that they can make a “grown up” decision about and feel as though they have ownership of their own health. Most kids love the idea of making “grown up” decisions.
OK, I know you are saying that this is a little manipulative on my part, but it is manipulation for their own good. Without pressuring the kids, my husband and I have began to discuss the importance of making good choices and the consequences of making bad choices in the things that they choose to put into their bodies .
Our first adventure on our quest for healthy eating – the local farmers market. These are becoming more and more common as people realize the importance of getting foods that are free of pesticides and that have not been sitting on the shelf for a long time in some warehouse. It is also nice to support our local farmers.
On our visit to the farmers market, we met some excellent artists, saw a great food demonstration on using just the foods that could be found at the market, and met some of the most interesting individuals.
If you have not already done so, find out where your local farmers markets are in your community. They seem to be popping up at a rapid pace. Here is a great link to help you get started: http://www.localharvest.org/.
Once you find the location, make a real effort to visit the market with your kids. Let them look around, make decisions about what they would like to try, and let them ask questions of the farmers that are available.
My kids asked a lot of questions about all of the herbs that one of the farmers had available. She had everything from chocolate mint to parsley. It was hard for my kids to believe that these are the items that season our foods.
This was an awesome teachable moment for my kids and can become an excellent teachable moment your kids. And the great thing is that the kids are more likely to eat what you cook if they had a hand in deciding what ingredients are going to be used in the dish.