I’ve always been an advocate for teaching kids to eat healthier and I wholeheartedly support parents who try every technique available to get their kids to eat better. And while there may be many ways to get your own kids to eat more vegetables or fruits, I’m not as favorable for having to “hide” vegetables and fruits into food. The reason for that is simple – teach kids to eat food in their natural state so they know where it comes from.
Eating food in its natural state is much like the Farm to Table method where what you grow is what you eat. When you take a child to a local farm or even to the grocery store, they’re bound to see fruits and vegetables in their natural forms. Even better when you have your own garden where you can grow lots of delicious and healthy fruits and vegetables. Imagine your child going to the yard and plucking a fresh and juicy apple and then biting into that delicious sweetness. Do you see the delight in their eyes? Do they not immediately go “Mmmmm” as the sweet juice drips down their adorable little chin? No doubt that kids would much rather eat a fresh and sweet apple than find them hidden and overly sweetened in a pie or cake. When you teach your children to enjoy food in its original state, you’re bringing them back to nature, back to when things are simpler and easier to manage. Children don’t have to worry how many calories are in an apple or strawberry or whether there’s too much sugar or sodium in their fruits and vegetables. If you let your children enjoy food in its natural state, the way the food is grown, you’ll get a healthy eater in lesser time than if you had to trick them into something healthier.
I work at an elementary school and I see students eating a packed lunch of Cheetos and cupcakes. Maybe the “cheese” in Cheetos signify getting some kind of protein? Or the cupcakes contain some eggs so it’s gotta be healthy right? Well, getting your kids to eat healthier and to choose a healthy lifestyle starts as soon as they can eat. When they’re infants, you wouldn’t dream of feeding them soda or chips so the foundation for good health should already continue well into their early childhood and into adulthood. Raise a healthy eater and I’m pretty sure your child will grow up with a healthier outlook on life.
Below I’ve listed a few steps you can take to offer food in its natural state to your children. There’s also a great website on choosing to eat healthier with some great tips: http://www.rodalewellness.com/food/learn-how-to-love-healthy-foods
Tips on appreciating food in their natural form:
– Take your kids to the grocery store (preferably a natural grocery store) and show them all the different kinds of food in their original state. If you have a grocery list, have your kids write the list of vegetables and fruits they want to see at the store.
– Have your kids pick out some of their favorite fruits and vegetables and also pick out something they haven’t tried before. You’ll most likely find some oddly shaped fruits and vegetables at natural grocery stores and that’s okay – these produce were not genetically grown so they’re as natural as your kids are!
– Have your kids try out some of the samples at the produce section. Most natural grocery stores will have cut up fruits for customers to sample (and they’re usually deliciously sweet!)
– Try some homemade dressings or dips or purchase all-natural ones at the store for kids to dip their vegetables in.
– Depending on the age, have your kids help you cut up their freshly bought vegetable and fruits to make into salads or as crudites.
– For school lunches, cut up thin slices of sweet and juicy apples or easy to eat vegetables and provide them along with their meals. When the fruits and vegetables are easy to hold and chew, your kids will most likely eat them.
– Keep a good amount of fresh produce in your fridge at all times. When possible, try to buy organic to avoid toxic chemicals and treatments. For a current list of clean produce to buy, check out this website: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php.
– Resist the urge to bury their vegetables in heavy sauces or oils. Raw vegetables and fruits have the most nutrition and health benefits. Once food is cooked down, you loose most of the nutrients.
– Explain to your kids that fresh fruit and vegetables, natural milk, and whole grains are the foundation to healthy brains and bodies. These types of foods will help them think clearer and play harder.
– Planting a garden. When kids have the opportunity to see how certain plants are grown they’re more apt to eating the fresh harvest. Give your kids their own planting spot and plant easy to grow herbs, fruits, and vegetables. If you have limited space, planters work really well and grow plants just as beautifully.
So take a few moments to teach your kids about eating food as they’re grown. Children are naturally fascinated at nature and if you allow them to enjoy fruits and vegetables in as much raw form as possible, they’ll learn valuable lessons about nature and healthy habits.
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