‘Ewwwww!!! I hate *insert various fruits or veggies names here*, they are disgusting!’
Sounds familiar? Whether you’ve heard it from your little guy or young niece, we’ve all been there. We’ve all wished kids would simply eat the healthy stuff we give them with appetite and contentment, rather than with protest and making faces. How can get there? How can we turn off the cranky, grim look on a child’s face and turn it into a cheery one? Here is the simple answer: start a conversation.
Appetite comes with knowledge
To raise a generation of healthy eaters, we need everyone to share the responsibility: at home, in the school, and in the community. School breakfast programs are certainly an ideal setting for modeling healthy behavior and educating students about food and nutrition. So for the first time this year, Breakfast Club of Canada decided to kick it up a notch and partner with Chefs in the Classroom, an Okanagan-based initiative with the mission to educate children in their community on how to grow, cook and eat Okanagan fruits and vegetables. Together, we created a series of videos with two goals in mind: show how little young children know about their food and what goes into it, and encourage parents to talk food with their child. Check them out!
In parallel, we ran a pilot project which gave students from Kelowna-based Quigley Elementary and Sensisyusten School the opportunity to experience Chef in the Classroom’s unique hands-on curriculum. The 7-lesson course, which is linked to their own Aboriginal community and its practices, included topics such as how to plan a garden, Nutrition 101, transplanting and composting, and how to use herbs to enhance flavors of food. The ultimate lesson included a field trip to a local farm, a tour of the facility, lunch, and a graduation ceremony. We are proud to say the pilot was a huge success!
From school to home: apron-up!
Whether or not your child has access to a school breakfast program, try to incorporate talking and preparing food with your kid(s) into your family routine. Involving them in the various stages that precede eating a meal – from menu planning to grocery shopping, caring for a garden to cutting fruits and veggies – has some serious benefits. A Canadian study found that ‘kids who regularly helped with meal prep preferred healthier foods and ate 10 percent more of their veggies than the kitchen-slackers’*. Now that’s encouraging!
So go ahead, grab a kitchen stool and a small apron, and put your little helper to work tonight! You’ll be surprised how much you both get out of it. Just remember that patience, consistency, creativity and most of all FUN, are the keys to success, and get ready to switch the ewwwwww into yum mmm!