As a vegetarian family, we give a lot of thought to what goes on our grocery list and into the nutritious meals we make. My daughters, now 14 and 17, have grown up learning about the importance of a balanced diet, with words like protein, calcium and iron a part of their vocabulary from early childhood.
They’ve accompanied me on countless trips to the grocery store, each an opportunity to teach them about nutrition, to select new foods to try, and to involve them in choosing the items that make it into our cart.
Likewise, at home in our kitchen, they’ve been washing fruit and veggies, chopping, measuring, mixing, and taste-testing since they were toddlers. Happily, both have a relatively good knowledge of nutrition, enjoy preparing healthy snacks and meals, and believe as I do, that like exercise, nutrition is medicine.
18 Ways to Teach Kids About Nutrition
At the Grocery Store:
- Plan a trip to the grocery store with your kids and have them help you shop.
- Teach kids about the many different kinds of food and that some come from plants and others from animals.
- As you make your way through the different sections of the grocery store, talk about the different foods found in each section.
- Talk about food safety too – i.e. how to handle and prepare the food you purchase, how to store it, etc.
- Encourage your kids to select a couple of new food items each time you shop.
- Let your kids select the fruit and vegetables they’d like to have in school lunches.
- Give them an item or two to locate in the store without help.
- Review nutrition labels with your kids – talk about added sugar (and the many forms it takes), healthy fats vs. unhealthy fats, calorie value, protein, iron, etc.
In Your Kitchen:
- Engage your kids in meal preparation.
- Teach them to follow recipes and to have the confidence to modify them as they wish.
- Reinforce that eating well doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.
- Again, talk about food safety and how to store and prepare food items.