Last week, I taught a nutrition lesson to a group of preschoolers. As part of the lesson we made a healthy snack. The snack that we made was this one – pizza hummus and gluten free rice cake pizzas. I was excited to see that most of the kids (even the picky eaters) were willing to try something new, like hummus. Getting kids to try new foods can be very challenging (to say the least) but if you introduce new foods with familiar flavors, like pizza, they are usually more receptive. Pizza hummus sounds much more exciting to a 4 year old than bean dip.
10 Fun Ways To Teach Your Kids About Nutrition
- Be a healthy role model. Kids need healthy role models in all areas of life – and that goes for food too. Kids are much more likely to eat their fruits and vegetables if they see you eating yours.
- Avoid labeling foods and “good” or “bad”. This usually only makes “bad” foods more desirable. Instead, point out the functions of different foods (i.e. carbohydrates give you instant energy needed for sports, etc.)
- No food rewards! Rewarding kids with food sends the wrong message and can lead to weight problems down the road. Instead, use something fun and active like a quick family bike ride or 15 minutes of frisbee.
- Take a trip to the grocery store…but not to shop. Take a special field trip to the grocery store to explore and learn about food. Ask kids to pick out a few new foods and then go home and have a taste test.
- Choices. Choices. Choices. We all love choices. Help your child to make better food choices by giving them options. For example, if you serve three vegetables at dinner, ask your child to choose at least two of the three for that meal.
- Cook together. A great hands on way to teach kids about nutrition is to ask them to help prepare a recipe – like this one! See age appropriate step by step recipe below.
- Eat together. Eating meals together as a family is critically important to the development of healthful eating habits. Aim to set aside at least 1 night per week for a family meal.
- Question time. Kids love questions! At meal time, ask kids to use their senses to describe the smells, flavors and textures of the food they are eating.
- Story time. There are so many great children’s stories with positive nutrition messages. A couple of my favorites are: Too Much Junk Food by Stan & Jan Berenstain and Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat. How to Teach Nutrition to Kids by Connie Liakos Evers, MS, RD is an excellent teaching guide.
- Puppets & Stuffed Animals. When all else fails, using a puppet or favorite stuffed animal to convey nutrition messages is almost always a success. In the photo above, you can see my friend, Mitch, the lamb puppet. Mitch helped me out last week and made the nutrition lesson go a lot smoother.
Click here for a Healthy Eating for Preschoolers Daily Food Plan by ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Below is an age appropriate, step by step recipe that you can use with preschool aged kids. Just click on the image to download a free PDF of the recipe.
- Combine garbanzo beans, water, garlic, sea salt, olive oil, tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, basil and oregano in a food processor and blend on low/medium speed for 2-3 minutes until thoroughly combined.
- Spread 2 T of pizza hummus on a rice cake and top with shredded cheese, pepperoni, olives and green peppers. Enjoy!