We’ve all heard the saying ‘ Knowledge is Power’ and we all know what it means. The most important thing though, is that it’s true. When you know all the facts about something, the choices you make are educated and any consequences are expected–if you smoke and get lung cancer, well no surprise there. No surprise if you’ve been told that smoking gives you lung cancer. If you haven’t been told, then smoking isn’t an educated risk, it’s a matter of pure ‘like’ or ‘don’t like’. It’s the same with food choices. And, lack of knowledge is probably even riskier with food, because we have to eat.
Food education is more than just telling our kids to eat their veggies, it’s telling them the why…that’s the knowledge part. You can restrict your kids access to certain foods because they’re bad for them. Or, you can teach them about food, the good, the bad and the ugly. I recommend the latter.
Here are my four recommendations for continuously encouraging kids to make the right decisions by talking to them and teaching them about food:
- Cook with your kids.
Kids that can cook will become adults that can cook. Plus, cooking your own real food is healthier.
- Talk about the food your eating and how it helps you.
Meat/protein makes your muscles strong, milk/calcium is good for bones, etc.
- Teach you kids about proportions and how much of each type of food your body needs.
Super Healthy Kids has an awesome dinner set to help with the discussion, but there are lots of websites with visual aids as well.
- Enforce Balance. There are no foods my kids can absolutely not have, but moderation is what I preach. A cookie is o.k., but not 10 cookies. I also enforce balance by limiting unhealthy food to nothing if healthy food is not eaten (i.e. if you don’t eat your beans, you don’t get dessert).
The thing is, you are not always going to be with your child to control what they eat. When they are at school, or friends houses, and when they grow-up and leave home. The temptation of unhealthy foods is still going to be there and chances are, our kids are going to eat some of them. That’s o.k. They will survive. Plus, if we’ve done our job teaching them about the differences between healthy and less healthy foods, as well as provided the benefits and risks, they will make the right decisions.