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Posts Tagged ‘Kids Nutrition’

Recently I came across a statistic that startled me: Many youth today are up to two generations away from households where healthy food is prepared from fresh ingredients. We’re cooking and eating at home less and less. Only about 60% of dinners eaten at home are actually cooked there.

This makes food preparation and nutrition education important to our next generation’s health.  In order for youth to make informed, healthy decisions about their food, they need to have skills and knowledge about nutrition and food. Teaching kids to cook isn’t just passing on useful information they will use to feed themselves later on it also builds math, science, literacy and fine motor skills.

Dinner time is often one of the busiest times every day at my house. Teaching cooking skills and having nutrition discussions with my kids is on the back burner or forgotten in the chaos of the evening. Having a plan to pass on these skills can help make sharing them with your children and teens a priority.

Including your kids in meal planning is a good place to start.  Have children or youth choose a recipe that they are excited to try.  Help them make a list and shop for the ingredients at the store.  This teaches meal planning, a valuable lifelong skill and can build their enthusiasm for being in the kitchen.  As you grocery shop with your child consider explaining to them why you make some of the choices you do.  Talk to them about how and why to compare prices, use coupons or why you choose some brands and sizes over others.

Keep in mind cooking is a skill that increases with experience.  If a recipe with a lot of steps or ingredients feels intimidating for your new chef consider having them start with a side dish or a simple dessert.  Building confidence is part of gaining skills. Keep in mind that not every recipe may turn out successfully.  There’s growth and learning in failure too.  Talk with your child about what went wrong, and what could be done differently next time.

If your child isn’t ready to tackle a recipe on their own, invite them to join you in the cooking process by reading the recipe to you as you prepare food.  This involves them in part of the cooking process and teaches them how to read and follow a recipe.  As they learn to follow a recipe have them participate in other parts of the process such as gathering ingredients, being an assistant chef, setting the table or serving food.

Allow some space and time to play in the kitchen.  Some ideas might include: helping your child with a food science experiment, encouraging your child to create a food dish without a recipe, or experiment with different textures and taste combinations with some of your favorite recipes.

Keep in mind this process will be messy! However, it’s all part of the learning process and will get better with time.  Be prepared to talk about and demonstrate the skills you are wanting them to learn. The important thing to remember is to invite your kids in the kitchen with you in any way. Help them build a lifelong skill; it’s never too late to start.

Author: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension – Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewed By: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Ohio State University Extension- Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Sources:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2015). Teaching Kids to Cook. https://www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/four-steps/cook/teaching-kids-to-cook

Center for Nutrition Studies (2017). Cooking at Every Age, Why Kids Should Learn to Cook. https://nutritionstudies.org/cooking-at-every-age-why-kids-should-learn-to-cook/

eXtension (2017).Cooking with Kids in Schools: Why it is Important. https://www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/four-steps/cook/teaching-kids-to-cook

 

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As we work to take small steps to improve our health and well-being, are we taking into account the influence we have on others? As parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, volunteers, and our other roles, are we helping the youth and young parents make changes and establish habits to improve their long-term health and wellbeing?

I always think of examples of how this has played out in my life. As a dietitian, I have always encouraged my children to eat a well-balanced and healthy diet. My son was an athlete who ran a half mile run as part of the track team. I always encouraged him to drink milk, even chocolate milk, after competition as a post workout recovery drink. As a mother, my advice often went unheard, but one day I came home to see my son sitting at the table drinking a glass of milk. Being excited I commented on his change of heart and the happiness that he was following my input. Suddenly he replied by discussing the information that the track coach had shared about the value of drinking chocolate milk and so he was willing to try it. My excitement may have diminished, but the idea is that role models from other influences such as teachers, coaches, volunteers etc… are very important and valuable in the life of our children and youth.

Another example was a preschool education session I observed. The educator was discussing the importance of eating and drinking healthy foods. As the educator was talking the preschool teachers were sneaking a drink of soda pop and had bags of cookies on their desk. What are the students seeing to reinforce the messages being taught? Although no one eats perfectly or is as physically active as they need to be every day, when we are in a position to be observed by younger children or students are we displaying the kind of behaviors we hope those children and youth can learn good long term habits from?
Positive Role Model

The USDA has a great 10 tips nutrition education handout that is titled, “Be a Healthy Role Model for Children”. The ten tips are great ideas for all of us to keep in mind as we go through our daily routines and possibility influence others.

These tips are:

• Show by example— eat vegetables, fruits and whole grains when youth are watching you.
• Go food shopping together—let your children make healthy choices.
• Get creative in the kitchen—cut food into fun shapes or name a food after your child.
• Offer the same foods for every one—stop being a short order cook.
• Reward with attention, not food—everyone likes a hug.
• Focus on each other at the table—turn off the television and take calls after the meal is over.
• Listen to your child—offer your child a choice between two vegetables.
• Limit screen time—limit screen time to 2 hours and day and get up and move during the commercials.
• Encourage physical activity—make physical activity fun for the whole family.
• Be a good food role model—try new foods yourself.

Check out this tip sheet and others at the ChooseMyPlate.gov website. Consider putting this and others on the refrigerator for quick reminders of how easy being a good role model can be. With little effort you can make a big difference in someone else’s life!

Sources:

University of Texas at Austin, (2011). Chocolate Milk Gives Athletes a Leg Up after Exercise Says University of Texas Austin Study.

http://www.ChooseMyPlate.gov

Writer: Liz Smith, M.S., RDN., L.D., NE Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, smith.3993@osu.edu

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, M.A., L.D., Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Treber.1@osu.edu

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