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Help your kids learn about food

help your kids learn about food

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Some days it can be a challenge to get your little kids to eat anything at all, let alone a perfectly balanced meal. And, as they grow, their preferences (and a fascinating vocal ability to communicate them) complicate matters further. Yet every mealtime and chat time presents an opportunity to help your kids learn about food – the healthy, and the not-so. And it’s easier than you think to make it fun!

Beat the Advertisers

Advertisers are shameless (and largely unregulated) in their use of children’s characters to attract little ones to certain foods. Instead of fighting the tide of flashy images, try creating a game out of them. Engage your kids by getting them to spot adverts for foods aimed at them – talk to them about whether these foods are healthy and set up a reward chart where they can gain points for showing good knowledge about healthy choices. Dish out a healthy treat at the end of each week.

Who’s The Mummy/Daddy?

This is a great game to play with young children, as it really gets them thinking about foods and where they come from. Sit down around the table with your little ones and present them with a variety of simple but healthy foods. Then ask them ‘Who’s the Mummy?’. The ‘Mummy’ for an apple is the tree it grew on. For a glass of Milk it’s the cow it came from. A carrot’s parent is the earth it grew in, and so on.

Slow it Down

Eating quickly is not only bad for your digestion, it can make you eat more than you need. It typically takes about 20 minutes for our tummies to register the food we put into them. Encourage your kids to wait 30 seconds between mouthfuls. Use a timer to make the game more fun. This can also be a great way to stimulate conversation around the table in between mouthfuls – a skill many kids are simply not learning these days.

Taste it

I love this game. Aimed at slightly older kids, it’s a way of showing them how flavours can be versatile. It helps them to understand how much fun creating good food can be, and illustrates clearly that choice plays an important role in making food interesting. It simply involves selecting a flavour – chocolate, mint or strawberry are all good choices. Then, find as many foods as you can that contain that flavour, and conduct a blind tasting with your kids and see if they can guess the flavour, and the foods it is in. With mint, for example, you can use:

• A mint leaf

• Polo mint or other minty sweet

• Simple yoghurt, chopped cucumber and dried mint raita (just mix these three things together)

• Mint ice cream

• Minty chocolate

• Chewing gum

• Minted peas

• Lamb with mint sauce

Blast Off

help your kids learn about foodFor older kids, you can make things a little more technical and tap into their competitive spirit. Create a series of six fictitious dishes for each of the three main meals of the day. Allocate each meal a hidden score depending on how healthy it is – 10 for good ones, 5 for medium ones and 0 for bad ones. Make sure you have two of each type. Create a similar selection of snacks.

The breakfast selection, for example, could be:

• Full English Fry-up – 0 points

• Pancakes with syrup – 0 points

• Eggs on Toast – 5 points

• Bacon Buttie – 5 points

• Wholewheat toast – 10 points

• Wholegrain cereal – 10 points

Get your kids to choose meals to fuel their personal rocket tanks for a day. They need to select one breakfast, one lunch, one dinner, and two snacks. If their total score is more than 40, they can Blast Off! If not, discuss their choices and get them thinking about which ones are healthy. Then let them swap-out choices until they achieve the score that gives them the right amount of fuel for the day.




About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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