Do your kids know if an apple is a grain?
As parents, we have so many things to teach our children, and for me, teaching them as much as I can about the food we choose to eat is very important. From the age of 3 or 4 I discuss with them what I put in their lunches and why. Soon enough they will be the ones choosing what to pack and eat for lunch and if I don’t give them the information they need, how can I expect them to make healthy decisions?
They see their friends with packaged snacks at school and they get those treats at soccer games and birthday parties when they are being handed out, but I use every opportunity I can to talk to them about making healthy choices. In the grocery store we look at labels – recently we’ve been checking out the sugar content of everything. We compare sugar in milk to that in juice and then look at a can of soda . .they get it when they can see it themselves.
Canada’s Food Guide is a good teaching tool, but kids will may learn more at the dinner table and from cutting apart weekly grocery store flyers, or helping pack their own lunch! All great places to start to talk about the food you are eating. My 5 year old came home from Kindergarten with some great work she had done in art. Gluing pictures of food from the flyers into its proper food group!! How fun! And what a great way to teach them that we need to eat foods from all the food groups . . . and wait . . candy isn’t a food group??
My kids understand that we eat ‘brown’ bread and whole wheat pasta’s because it is better for us . . even though that starchy white stuff might taste good I explain why we choose not to eat it. They know that at each meal we should try to eat something from all the food groups and sometimes we take turns at dinner to see who can name the food groups on our plates.
From all these conversations, they are learning what Protein, Fruits, Vegetables, Diary and Grains are. They know these are the ‘healthy’ foods. They are also normal kids that would rather have ice cream and jelly beans for dinner so we do make ‘treat’ food a part of our day too. . .but the kids are learning to choose healthy food first!
It takes more than a glass of milk and gummy vitamins to raise healthy kids! Do you talk about the food you make with your kids and what the food groups are? Do you think understanding this now will help them as teens and as adults?