Healthy Eating: Teaching Kids About Nutrition
“Because my mom does not allow me to!” was a comment often made by my sister when she was asked something about why I did not join in her (often) rambunctious friends. As much as I loved my sister, I hated the response. I felt that it made my mom look like a bully who just wanted to rule the roost with no rhyme or reason as she dished out orders. Needless to say, when my sister was of age she did the exact opposite. I realized that although my mom had good intentions when she told my sister what to do, she never took the time to tell her why she thought so.
Maybe she did not have the time (my mom spent time on useless chores like ironing – blech) or maybe she did not feel the need to explain herself. I just found it hard to see so much good advice getting thrown out. I have my fair share of mess-ups as a mom but I really wanted to make an effort to educate rather than lecture (except I have my moments too). So when I got over my shock that my 2-year-old could read (I simply cannot take the credit for that), I decided to make sure she looked at food with education.
We spoke of calcium when we spoke of milk, and spoke about strong bones, we spoke of vitamins and fighting being sick as we looked at fruits. They knew protein was going to build muscles to make them strong so they ate up their beans. And fiber, well I called fiber the washing machine for their insides, making it all smacking clean. It was pretty close to the truth and I wanted to keep it free from poop talk. Well, not that we did not even discuss that. They know when they are lacking in water based on their stools too. OK, I confess, I lie a little – I do say broccoli helps hair grow longer but let’s keep that between you and me.
When my daughter was diagnosed with Autism, I started taking a finer look at ingredients and checked out food coloring. I found that those artificial colors were bad and have an even worse impact on Autistic kids. I explained to her that eating artificial colors was like eating paint. So now she reads for FDC color red #40 and understands that it is not good for her. She may have it on occasion at a party but it is not the norm and I don’t keep them in my home.
She may scream out someday that “I don’t want strong bones so I don’t want my milk!” but I doubt I will ever hear “Because my mom said drink my milk!”
Niri blogs at www.MommyNiri.com where features news, views, reviews and interviews. Read along to learn more about The World according to Mommy Niri. Follow her on twitter @mommyniri.
How do you educate your kids on healthy eating? How does that differ from the way that you were taught?
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