who are involved in shopping and cooking are healthier and more
adventurous eaters compared to children who are disconnected
from their food's origins and preparation. Involving kids in
the shopping and preparation of meals gives parents the opportunity
to talk to their child/children about their choices. Involve
your kids early on, as early as 3 years of age. Let your child
choose an ingredient, experiment and create. Kid's want to show
you your creations and they want them to be accepted and enjoyed.
Don't discourage the adventures of trying new foods (or different
variations) by making kids eat what they end up not liking. Forcing
kids to eat new foods they may not initially like will only convince
them that trying new foods are not worth the risk. Instead consider
introducing the previously rejected healthy food every 6 months,
in slightly diferent form or setting if possible.
Say 'Yes to a mess'. Look at the extra mess as part of an
investment in your child's life long health. Teach them to clean
up by helping them as you do with the food preparation. Cleaning
up is part of the process and can be a positive experience particularly
when done together.
Let kids transform food. Mashing foods such as avocados, potatoes,
or bananas can be very satisfying to kids. Kids also have a natural
interest and need to master somewhat dangerous elements such
as fire or heat and sharp instruments. See Risks
are Essential for Children's Healthy Development. Begin by
teaching them to cut soft produce with a plastic or wooden blade
Children increased consumption of vegetables when vegetables
were called exciting names such as Dinosaur Trees (broccoli)
and X-ray Carrots. In another study, children, who had
previously refused to eat their vegetables, were more likely
to eat vegetables on their plates when eating with someone they
admired or respected who also ate vegetables.
Children drinking low fat milk as their only milk source in
the three weeks prior to illness had five times the risk of a
doctor's visit for acute gastrointestinal illness as did children
who only drank whole milk during the same time period.
Koopman JS, Turkisk VJ, Monto AS, Thompson FE, Isaacson
RE (1984). Milk fat and gastrointestinal illness. Am J Public
Health. 74(12), 1371-3.