The Centers for Disease Control reports that more than 12 million children and teens are obese. With alarming statistics like this, it’s no wonder that more and more people want to learn how to teach kids about good nutrition. Poor diet plays a key role in the obesity epidemic, but educating children about healthy eating at a young age can help counteract this growing problem. Teaching them about nutrients and good and bad foods will give them the knowledge necessary to make good food choices and develop lifelong healthy eating habits.
Understanding the Nutrition Label
The nutrition label that comes on most foods is the best way to find out if something is healthy or not, but first, kids have to understand it. This means taking a look at the serving size, calories, fat, sugar and list of nutrients. Kids need to realize that serving size can be a tricky area because many foods are actually more than one serving. For instance, if the label on a package of snack crackers says it has two servings, then the calories, fat and everything else on the list is doubled. You should also teach them about nutrients, and which ones they need to eat more of and which ones they should avoid. Potassium, fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C and iron are all nutrients that the FDA says kids need, while they should eat less sodium, sugars, trans and saturated fats and cholesterol.
Stock Nutritious Food and Set a Good Example
One of the easiest ways to get kids to eat right is to simply not buy junk food. If you fill your pantry and refrigerator with whole grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables and other nutritious foods, kids will eat it. In addition to this, make it a point to explain to your children what makes these foods healthy, and why they are a better choice than potato chips or cookies. If you are also eating these nutritious foods, you’re leading by example, which kids will notice. Modeling healthy food choices will show your children how to eat right, and it will also help them develop positive attitudes toward food and nutrition.
Eat Meals Together as a Family
Dining together is a simple activity that can have a big effect on your kids and how they view nutrition. Whether its breakfast, lunch or dinner, enjoying meals together at regular times and serving a variety of nutritious foods will help children develop good habits and introduce them to a wide range of healthy foods. It will also give you the opportunity to teach them about what they’re eating and how it’s good for their bodies.
Let Kids Help Out in the Kitchen
Giving children a job in the kitchen or allowing them to help pick out food at the grocery store or plan meals is another way to teach them about good nutrition. At the store, discuss the nutritional value of different foods, pointing out both good and bad choices. You can even let them make some decisions on what to buy, which will empower them and further encourage healthy choices. Back at home, let them assist you in planning and preparing meals. Not only will this provide more opportunities for teaching them about nutrition and healthy cooking methods, it will also give them necessary skills that they can use to make good choices as they grow up.
Lindsay Holland is a professional blogger that provides parents and guardians with information and reviews for after school care programs and day cares. She writes for The Learning Experience, a leading child care center in Chantilly and after school program in Chantilly VA.