“Living healthy and active is important to overall health. Exercise and fuel (food) are key to keeping young bodies healthy. Getting your family involved in growing, harvesting and preparing foods is a great way to start lifelong healthy habits ,” says Heather Schmidt, DO, family medicine provider and healthy lifestyle coach with Agnesian HealthCare Fond du Lac Regional Clinic West.
Here’s one person’s story of how they engaged their family in healthy habits:
When I was little, I had no concept of where
my food came from. I just knew that my mom went to the store and came back with lots of things for my family to eat. I never thought about the journey my food went through to make it into the store and eventually onto my plate.
Over the past few years I got interested in starting a garden. I like the idea of growing my own food, and I also like my kids being involved in the process of planting, taking care of, and eventually eating the fruits and vegetables from our own backyard. I think that gives them a much greater appreciation for what food goes through to make it to our table.
Last year we started small with two container gardens. This year we are expanding to a small raised bed in the backyard (and who knows where we might go from there!) I let the kids help decide what we are going to plant and they help with watering, weeding, and picking the produce when it’s ripe. They get so excited about the food we grow, and would much rather eat it than just about anything else. It’s a great way to teach them something and develop healthy habits at the same time.
“Studies show that children are more likely to eat the foods they grow, choose at the grocery store, and/or prepare. These activities often expand the variety of foods they enjoy and can mean a wider range of nutrients consumed. It is also a good tactic for children who are picky eaters.”
My kids love helping me cook. That’s one area where I’m trying to develop more patience. I spend a fair amount of time cooking, but I like to do everything myself so that it gets done as quickly as possible. When the kids help, it slows down the process and speeds up the mess, but it’s worth it. My kids are more likely to eat something they helped make because they feel pride in it, and also because they are sure of exactly what’s in it. (“Mom can’t sneak in some mushrooms or zucchini if she knows I’m watching!”)
Whether your children learn about about food through gardening, meal preparation or just talking about healthy eating, parents are the best teachers and examples. Establishing healthy habits early will help your kids develop habits to last a lifetime.
This story was shared by Jen Mueller, a blogger at www.sparkpeople.com.
Do you have a story like this to share? Please feel free to share your ideas!