As a certified nutrition health coach and a mom, I’m NOT here to preach how I eat perfectly 100% of the time and how my children are the healthiest eaters on the planet, particularly during a pandemic. NOPE. I’m continually craving and indulging in some unhealthier comfort foods, as we all probably are during this super surreal and unsettling time. Cookies and Prosecco anyone?
Like all parents, I’ve had an interesting and somewhat overwhelming time digesting the fact that I’m mom, wife, cook, house cleaner, dog walker, marketing content writer, nutrition health coach and teacher. So, I’ve tried to get creative and efficient by merging my nutrition health coach, mom and teacher strengths together.
Here are 5 tips and fun ways to spend time with your kids and slyly teach them about healthy eating:
5 Tips for Kids’ Healthy Eating:
- Let your children feel like they are the leader (even if they’re not)
- On that same note, allow your children to be the Creative Director(s) (insert overplayed, may be irritating, yet oddly spot on “Let it Go” music)
- Cooking participation is key (Again, “let it go,” particularly the need to be mess-free. Kids are more likely to try food if they make it themselves.)
- Dipping sauces are your friends (Great for picky eaters. A sauce, like mustard, ranch, etc., may change their perspective).
- Games are the secret sauce (see what I did there?) to successful learning
5 Fun Ideas for Kids’ Healthy Eating
1. Make Green Ice Cream Shakes: I have no shame, and in fact, encourage any and all marketing tactics to sell healthy foods to your kids. Call it a green monster shake, Yoshi ice cream, Mr. Caterpillar’s favorite dessert or whatever.
MORE importantly, have your kids make the healthy green goodness themselves by tossing the following in a blender: 1-2 handfuls of spinach, a spoonful of peanut butter, two splashes (or three) of milk (we use almond, but whatever type you like) and 1-2 FROZEN sliced bananas in a blender.
Blend all ingredients, pour in a cup and serve with a spoon. Bam! A healthy green sweet! My kids want this every day.
2. Create Food Challenges: My twin boys love the show “Nailed It” and the Food Network Cookie Challenges.
They came up with the idea to do cookie decorating and blindfolded food-tasting challenges as a family. They also like to be the directors and judges who call all the shots. We had a lot of fun and it was a great way to introduce new healthy foods, cooking techniques and math concepts (e.g., ½ cup, ¼ cup).
3. Incorporate a Nutrition Class: During homeschool time, we select a fruit or vegetable of the day and learn all about it. As a result, my kids become more interested in tasting foods.
We’ve had fun using this book as our guide. My boys will roll a dice, pick the matching page number, find the featured food and go from there.
I’ve also had fun teaching them about Nutrition Facts and Organic labels.
4. Become a Game Show Host: I started a fun game where I ask my boys to “name that item” as I’m unloading the dishwasher. Some kitchen items are harder than others, such as a colander, melon baller, etc. Take it a step further and have them write down the items to strengthen their writing and spelling skills.
5. Mix up Mealtime Routines: This is an unusual time that calls for unexpected sparks of creativity and happiness. Consider spicing up your typical mealtime routines by adding a little theater, imagination and even games. Don’t forget to include fruits and veggies too! Ideas include:
- Transform your table into a restaurant and let your kids become the host, wait staff or even the chef
- Mimic your favorite restaurants’ foods, menus, and ambiance
- Incorporate mealtime games and silly conversations such as I Spy, 20 Questions or joke-telling.
COVID-19 is a sobering reminder that health is our number one priority in life. So, why not keep moving the dial closer to health and happiness, and have fun while you’re doing it? But remember, we are all carrying more responsibility than imagined, so don’t be too hard on yourselves and embrace and celebrate the small, enjoyable wins.
What other ways are you incorporating healthy activities with your kids?