Raising Healthy Eaters

Raising healthy eaters is easy to do when you get your kids involved with the food they eat! I think the key to success is to make food and everything to do with it a fun experience. Because let's face it kids are all about fun!

When my daughter was a baby, I'd let her play with food. For example she would sit in her high chair and have a great time exploring an avocado. Feeling the bumpy texture of the skin with her little fingers, bringing it to her nose to smell it, smearing it around her tray like a painting, it usually ended up all over her face and in her hair! As much as possible, we encouraged her to feed herself so that she would get to explore get to know her food... it was a messy fun filled experience!

Now that she's older, she helps out with every aspect of our family meals. We plan meals together, she helps write out our shopping list, she gets her own little cart to fill at the store, and is our produce picker at the farmers market. After years of "playing" in the kitchen she is now quite comfortable with a knife and helps to prep our fruits and veggies. We made a casserole last night and I didn't have to chop a single vegetable! Our new mission... we are growing a garden this year!

My advice to parents is to let food be a fun hands on learning experience!

- Let your babies play with their food! Watch them explore their food and engage their 5 senses.

- When time permits, take your children grocery shopping, let them help you pick out a rainbow of fruits and veggies.

- Trust them with tasks in the kitchen - it's the only way they'll learn and gain skills. Get them washing the produce, ripping lettuce, cutting soft things with plastic knives, and working their way up to using a real knife, setting the table, and doing other jobs that help boost their confidence in the kitchen.

I think it's important that we engage our children in the entire process of their food. Learning where it comes from and how it grows. Helping to select, prepare, and cook it. This gives parents the opportunity to have great chats about why we choose healthy foods for our bodies and how the choices we make effect us and the whole planet! By setting healthy habits at a young age we are giving our children the skills they will need to make wise choices later in life.

About the Author: Kia Robertson is a mom and the creator of the Today I Ate A Rainbow kit; a tool that helps parents establish healthy eating habits by setting the goal of eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day. For more info, visit www.todayiatearainbow.com.

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