Teaching your kids about the importance of good nutrition sets them up with healthy habits as they get older. There are some fun ways to teach your kids about healthy foods. Eating a healthy diet helps lower their risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other serious problems commonly associated with poor nutrition.
September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. In honor of this cause, take a look at the following fun ways to teach your kids about good nutrition and about the importance of maintaining optimal health for years to come.
Look up fun facts together
Fun facts about nutrition can make this topic more interesting for both you and your children. Sit down with your kids and search the Internet for fun facts about fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods. For instance, did you know avocados, tomatoes, and pumpkins are all fruits, and not vegetables? Did you know that apples are 25 percent air and can float in water?
Devise funny names for healthy foods
Research shows that assigning funny names to certain foods helps your children develop a bond with those foods. When spending time with your children, come up with goofy names for fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other foods you want included in your kids’ diets.
Install educational app games
There are many educational nutrition apps for iOS and Android that will keep your children engaged while teaching them important facts about healthy eating. Awesome Eats, ABC Food, and Healthy Food Monsters are just some examples of app games that teach children about important nutrients, and about the difference between junk foods and healthy foods.
Read fun books about nutrition
If your kids love to read, stock up on fun, educational books that either directly or indirectly teach them about good nutrition. Examples of classics for younger children are Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, Eat Your Peas by Cheryl Karpen, and The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. If you have teenagers, look for fun nutrition books geared specifically toward teens such as Teens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat by Megan Carle.
Tend a garden together
If there’s room in your yard, work with your children on creating a small garden so you can grow healthy fruits and vegetables together. Tending a garden with your children will make them feel excited and proud about eating the “fruits” of your labor together! If your home isn’t equipped for a garden, look for the nearest community garden in your neighborhood.
Look for cartoon characters in the produce section
Many fruit and vegetable distributors now place stickers and packaging on their foods that contain cartoon characters, comic book heroes, and other figures your children will recognize. Marketers often use this trick to attract children to their food products. When shopping in the produce section at the grocery store, send your kids on a mission to locate bananas, oranges, apples, and other healthy foods featuring stickers of their favorite cartoon heroes.
Play games with real foods
Place a number of fruits and vegetables on a tray, and devise a game in which you say riddles about certain foods, and have your kids determine which food goes with each riddle. For instance, for broccoli, you could say “I look like a group of small trees, and am high in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C.” After your children provide the correct answer, allow them to smell, examine, or eat the food item.
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Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on September 4, 2017