How to Teach Your Children to Eat More Healthily
It’s very important to encourage our children to eat more healthily. We need to feed our children healthy foods and teach them to make healthy food choices early in life. Here are a few ideas to help our children eat healthier.
Go food shopping with your children. Allow children to select fruits and vegetables. Give them a bag and let them choose the broccoli, string beans, or grapes.
Use the dinner table to discuss with the rest of the family how the selected fruits or vegetables were prepared, how they taste, and what the specific nutrients they provide for our bodies.
Visit a farmers market or local farm. Give each child their own weekly snack bag or basket and allow them to pick the fruits or vegetables they want.
Give them a section in the refrigerator for their own healthy weekly snacks. Ask them to select plenty of nature’s sweet treats like raisins, grapes, cherries, peaches, oranges, and apples.
Cook with your children. Start with having them wash the fruits and vegetables. Peeling potatoes or carrots with a safe peeler. Simultaneously, explain why we need to eat Eat More Healthily.
My children love mixing the salad or making homemade salad dressing. Create fruit shakes or smoothies for dessert. They will love putting the ice, milk, and fruits in the blender and hitting the blend button.
While cooking you can hear about their day and emphasize the importance of eating healthy. Have fun in the kitchen preparing healthy dishes and creating lasting memories.
Grow a garden with your children. Start with a window garden of herbs, tomatoes, or peppers. They will love planting and playing in the dirt.
Watering an outside garden will be tons of fun, children love playing with water. As the vegetables start to grow, play games like “Who Can Spot a Tomato First.”
When it is time for picking the vegetables, let the children help. They will be so excited to see the finished product, pick it, and taste it.
Emphasize the importance of drinking water. Strive for eight glasses per day. Allow only water between meals rather than sugary drinks.
Explain why water is vital for the body (cleansing, flushing, etc.) and what happens when you become dehydrated.
Getting Children Interested in Growing Vegetables|Eat More Healthily
What is the best way of getting your children interested in growing vegetables?
Well in my view you need to give them their own space. Tell them this plot is yours. It does not have to be large, about 2 feet square for younger children or you could even get them started by growing crops or herbs in pots. Older children may prefer something larger.
I know that a small high-density bed that is only 2 feet by 2 feet doesn’t sound very big, but it will be to a young child. A larger bed may just seem too big to do anything with to them, so start them small.
If you have more than one child, give them their own high-density bed each or just make a larger bed and divide this up into a section for each child and then divide this into mini-plots for each crop.
For very young children I would not make the bed more than 2 feet wide as they can reach the middle of this from each side.
What I would do is start them off with their own high-density gardening raised bed built from timber that is at least 6 inches deep.
This will give soil depth which is deep enough for most easy to grow crops. You need to fill this with a soil mix and I would recommend buying this in the form of bagged peat or coir, bagged well-rotted manure, and maybe a bag of sterilized topsoil as well.
As you have some manure in there you need to instill in your children good hygiene with handwashing after gardening and before eating. Mix your soil ingredients together and then fill the high-density garden bed.
If you are using 6-inch timber you will only need 2 cubic feet of soil mix. Once you have done this I would divide the bed into 4 mini-plots using a brightly colored plastic string.
I have gone for plastic as it does not rot and is safer for little hands than wire. Simply staple this to the timber. To increase interest, get your child involved in building the high-density garden bed and even a trip to buy the soil mix and the seeds.
You are now ready to start planting. But what do you plant? It all depends on the age of your child. Younger children want to see things happen quickly and the crop is ready as soon as possible. Older children may be prepared to wait to harvest the crop.
For this reason, I would suggest thinking about what crops to grow. Things like radish and lettuce are best as these are fairly quick to grow.
That takes care of 2 of the mini-plots and in the others, I would suggest something like a mixed salad, land cress, rocket, or possibly 1 outdoor cherry tomato plant.
Older children will have a much better idea of what they like and want to eat so go along with that but remember, the crops talked about here are quick growing.
I know tomatoes take a long time to grow but the seed should be up in a week and then there is all the fun watching it grow to about 3 to 4 foot tall, keep tying it to the stake, pinching out the side buds, watching the flowers appear, then the tiny green fruit and so on.
There is a lot to watch with tomatoes. You can start the plant off in a pot in the house. Try the kitchen windowsill. Put 2 or 3 seeds in and choose the strongest seedling.
There is watering to be done, so buy a child-size watering can for this job and make sure you stand the pot on a drip tray or old plate. If it is warm enough outside, you can just put the seeds straight into the mini-plot.
Make sure this is at the side farthest away from the sun as otherwise, it would shade out the other smaller plants.
Back to the high-density bed, what to do now? It should be divided into 4 mini-plots and each one of these will take a different crop.
I would get your child to sow radish in one of the mini-plots. Try dividing this up for them into 3 strips and sow 2 rows of radish in one of them, 2 rows in the next 2 weeks later, and 2 rows in the final strip 2 weeks after than to give timed cropping.
Simply draw your finger to make 2 drills in which to drop the seed about half an inch deep. Try to get the seeds about an inch apart but this will not be easy for little fingers and cover the seeds with soil mix.
It doesn’t matter if there are gaps or too many seeds in some places, it is all part of gardening experience.
If there are too many seedlings simply thin them out. You should be able to fill gaps in with these thinnings but they do not always transplant but there is no harm in trying.
When your child is planting the final third of the bed there will be radishes nearly ready for harvesting in the first third.
I would start these off growing in small flats or seed trays or better still in cells as these make a nice little plug to transplant. Rather than hearting lettuce, I would grow a loose-leaf type as they grow much quicker and can be harvested earlier.
They also have the benefit of keeping growing as long as you harvest a few leaves of each plant when you need them.
Once the seedlings are large enough, plant out 4 in a mini-plot. Watch out for slugs and other pests but otherwise just watch them grow. Harvest the young leaves when ready.
Mixed Salad Leaves
I would get your child to scatter these on the surface of the soil mix. Tip the seeds out on to your hand or a piece of paper and get your child to pick a few up at a time, scatter these and then add some more.
Gently cover the seeds and I find a simple garden seed sowing sieve is best for this. Do not cover them too thickly.
You treat these the same as for loose-leaf lettuce but rather than one type of lettuce you will get a mixture of different salad leaves which can all be harvested together.
Land Cress or Rocket
These may be a little strong in taste but if your child has grown them they may be far more likely to eat them. Sow them as you would for lettuce.
Grow in flats or cells and plant 4 to a mini-plot. They will develop to fill the mini-plot over time.
The Bottom Line
Lastly, encourage and model good eating habits. Let your children see you drinking lots of water and eating all of your vegetables. Praise them for their vegetable selections in the store and for helping prepare dinner.
Have fun eating healthy, preparing healthy dishes, shopping for vegetables, growing your garden, and spending time with your children. Explain that we have one body that we need to feed healthy stuff, love, and take care of!