IMPORTANCE OF INVOLVING KIDS IN GARDENING & FOOD PREPARATION
How you can teach your kids about importance of eating vegetables and fruit and how to nourish their bodies?
Kids need to learn how fruit, vegetables, grains and other food sources are grown.
They need to know and understand how much work is required in the garden for growing the plants from seeds till harvest.
They should be aware of nature’s beauty and how the nature has simply designed growth of variety of foods that helps any living being on the planet to survive.
Kids need to learn why is important to eat nutrient rich food, to eat ‘Colors of the Rainbow’, to eat variety, and reduce processed food.
Once kids learn that they will appreciate more every vegetable, grain, pulse that is served in front of them.
Involve your kids in gardening activities and teach them how to grow vegetables and fruit. This is an amazing way to get the kids outdoors, get exercise and teach them how to eat what they grow.
Children are curious, they like to learn by doing, and love to play in the dirt.
Explain to them whole process of growing the plant from the seed, and all work that has to be involved in maintaining the garden happy and plants alive.
Teach your kids why good organic soils, regular watering and protecting the plants from the insects and birds are important for the plants they are growing.
If possible, gift them kid-sized garden tools that are safer for them and more fun. Kids love dressing up, so gloves, sun-hat, watering can for start will wake up so much enthusiasm in your little gardener.
A child can experience the gratification from caring for something over time, while observing and learning the cycle of life.
Encourage them to check on their plants every day and keep the journal and photos of the plants from the seed till plant is ripe and ready for harvest.
Let them decide what they want to plant and provide designated space in the garden just for them.
Assign specific jobs just for them as that will make them feel important and responsible. Every kid loves digging the dirt and playing in the water, so digging the whole for planting the seeds and watering the garden will be welcomed as so much fun!
FOOD SHOPPING & PREPARATION
If you do not have a garden at home and your kids are not interested in visiting communal gardens, take them with you for food shopping. Explain why you are shopping variety of foods and variety of colors for fruit and vegetables.
Plan together with your kids what you will cook for the week, make a list together, and make a trip to the supermarket or veggie shop fun activity!
Kids needs to learn how to prepare and cook food.
They need to understand how much energy and time is needed for food preparation and cooking. They need to have that experience and hopefully enjoy process of cooking nourishing meal.
Many kids learn about gardening and food preparation at school. Here in New Zealand, we have amazing program in primary schools, ‘Garden to Table’ that has been teaching kids how to grow, prepare and share fresh seasonal food.
But you would be surprising how many kids do not know much about food preparation and cooking, as they have not had a chance to get involved in food preparation with family.
If kids are involved in food preparation that increases chance that food served in front of them would be liked and eaten.
If children are offered variety of nourishing foods earlier in life there is higher chance that they would make healthier food choices.
When children get explanation about benefits of certain foods, they will have power to make right food choices and grow strong and healthy body.
HOW YOU CAN HELP?
You have to involve kids in the kitchen at any age.
Start with a small task and baby steps at the time to keep motivation on and avoid refusals.
Make sure to schedule time each week with your child for learning and cooking in the kitchen…
Make it interesting and persist till the end of cooking, despite of mess in the kitchen, more energy required for explanations, and possible ‘turning noses’ to some foods. Kids like to see and try end product when involved.
Make it like a competition between you and your kid, or between siblings, and see how they enjoy and grow into little Master Chefs …
Do not give snacks to close to the main meal
Have ready and give veggies as option for the snack
Avoid power straggle at the dinner table
HOW YOU CAN NOURISH YOUR FAMILY
1. Increase fruits and vegetables consumption, focusing on seasonal fresh produce and including variety of colors: leafy greens, broccoli, red, yellow, green capsicums, courgettes, aubergine, berries, citrus, beetroot, apples, grapes
2. Include good protein source in each meal like fish, seafood, beef, livers, poultry, or vegetarian sources like chickpeas, lentils, beans that also good sources of zinc and iron.
3. Include probiotic and prebiotic foods to increase the diversity of your microbiome.
4. Add fresh herbs like oregano, parsley, thyme, sage and basil to each dish.
5. Don’t forget to include anti-inflammatory foods in your cooking, like turmeric, ginger, extra virgin olive oil, avocadoes..
6. And, most importantly avoid sugary treats, soft drinks and processed foods
7. Hydrate regularly to help your body natural elimination of toxins and other microbes that may cause illness. Water, herbal teas, soups, bone broths are the best option for keeping your body hydrated.
Let’s inspire our little gardeners and chefs by letting them help us in the garden and kitchen!