Thursday, March 8, 2012

Jamie Oliver's Tips For Teaching Kids To Love Healthy Foods

Children across the country are facing a real health crisis - between obesity, diabetes, and even tooth decay, what our kids eat is at the forefront of our minds as parents. School lunches, in many places, are inedible and filled with sodium and other chemicals. To combat this disturbing trend, chef and philanthropist Jamie Oliver started the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, an organization dedicated to teaching children healthy eating habits. Just last month, Oliver's foundation released the Giving Assistant as a really cool way to contribute to this effort. 

The Giving Assistant, developed by socially-conscious technology company GlobalMojo, installs in your web browser and allows you to donate a percentage of your online shopping spending to childhood food education (through certain vendors).

The best way to combat childhood obesity and other related illness, though, is by starting at home. Introducing lots of healthy foods into their diet is really the best way to educate them. They may not like kale at first, but surely there's some way that you can cook it (maybe with some cheese?!) that your child will enjoy.

Teaching your child what is healthy to eat can be very difficult - taste, availability, and their own stubbornness play a huge role in what your child will or will not eat. Head those challenges off at the pass with Jamie's quick tips.

1.  Set a good example. 
Eat meals together.  Get the kids involved in cooking and choosing what they eat.  The more you involve them in the process - and this can include growing a few vegetables in pots on the windowsill together - the more likely they will be to try new things.

2. Ban the junk.
Don't have junk food in the house. If they have no access to it, they won't eat it. Keep lots of fruit, nuts, cut up veggies and yogurts for when they need a snack.

3. Avoid fizzy drinks and flavored milk.
Encourage them to drink water, and flavour big jugs with fresh fruit like orange and lemon slices or smashed berries, handfuls of fresh mint leaves, or even go half fresh fruit juice half water.

4. Try and try again!
Studies show it can take as many as three introductions to a new food before a kid will try it. Keep trying. Kids do eat vegetables, I promise you. We always have a bowl of salad on the table so they get used to it, and now the girls will help themselves all the time. Try changing textures. Some kids prefer crunchy foods, others soft foods. Keep experimenting until you find something they like. Their taste buds are always changing too -  what they didn't like yesterday, they may love tomorrow.

5. Kids need less food than we think. 
Don't force them to finish everything on their plates if they aren't hungry. Teach them to listen to their bodies. Some days they will be starving, some days not hungry at all.

by Amy McCarthy

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