Empowering Kids In The Kitchen
Eric Meredith, Med, MS, RD, CHES
Creator of Health Heroes Comics
Getting kids involved in the kitchen can help change behaviors early and empower children to develop good life-long eating habits. Kids who learn how to cook tend to eat more nutritious foods and they're learning a skill that is very important. In a way, through teaching kids how to eat a balanced diet we are helping to develop a generation of healthier kids, who will eventually become healthy adults.
Most kids enjoy helping in the kitchen. Moreover, kids who help with meal prep are more apt to eat those foods because they feel pride and ownership over what they are served. This is important, because 60 percent of children do not eat enough fruit to meet daily recommendations and more than 90 percent of children don’t eat enough vegetables.
As you get your kids involved in the process, I recommend starting with a simple recipe with ingredients they are naturally drawn to like a fruit salad, which is something that children can easily prepare independently or alongside their parents. Canned fruit can be an affordable and nutritious option to incorporate into a salad. Plus, canned pineapple and peaches are easy to cut with a plastic knife when the little assistant chefs are at work.
As you help your kids make the dish, talk to them about why it is healthy and ask them to describe the color, taste and texture of the foods they are trying. And most importantly, be patient with spills and mistakes - the goal is to help your kids learn about healthy eating and try new nutrient-rich foods.