Sparking Kids Interest in Food and Nutrition – Part 4

In my last three blogs I provided the nine of twelve fun ways to further engage my child’s interest in food and nutrition. Please check out those blogs using the links at the end of this post. In today’s post I will discuss the final three ideas.

#10 – Let your children to mix and experiment with different food ingredients

My daughter started “mixing” at a year and a half. This was a fun activity that she had learned from her cousins that was a precursor to baking. At first, I chose items for her to mix. Mixing ingredients typically included a variety of dry baking goods, such as flour, oats, rice and spices, with liquids such as oil, water and food colouring. This way, if the mix made it into her mouth, other than a possible unpleasant taste, no harm would be done.

As she got older I would allow her to choose the ingredients. Since we had already baked together many times, she often wanted to pick baking items to mix. As her knowledge of foods developed, so too did the variety of ingredients that she wanted to include. Sometimes if the consistency was right, we would try to bake it. At first, it was rarely edible. However, it was very much a learning experience and what started out as a playtime activity soon taught her how different ingredients work together. I remember one specific mixture that we baked. My daughter learned that only a little baking soda is needed, not half of a cup. The baked dough tasted awful; but she learned to only use a small amount of baking soda. Her most recent cake made without a recipe turned out a little sweet but otherwise quite good and beautifully coloured.

#11 – Have fun with food

Keep trying new foods and recipes. Try a taste test game. While blindfolded, taste new and well known foods to see who can guess the food. Describe the mouth feel of the food and taste. Is it smooth, gritty, salty, sweet or savoury? Try plugging your nose when you try food. What do you notice with your nose squeezed shut compared to with your nose unblocked? What do you like or dislike about the food? It is amazing what you can discover when you take the time to try new things. This can also lead to slower more mindful eating overall, which has many benefits.

Don’t forget to try different versions of similar foods – more or less salt or sugar, on a cracker or toast, heated or cold, raw or cooked or cooked using different methods (fried, baked, steamed). Don’t be afraid to experiment. Above all, make it fun!

#12 – Make time for family meals 

It has been long recommended to try to eat meals together whenever possible. This may be easier right now in some respects as many people are working from home, though this may be limited to immediate families. This can be more challenging during busier times, but there are great benefits to eating together no matter how often you are able.

Sitting down together provides the opportunity to have great discussions. It gives us the chance to catch up on anything new that is going on in our lives, the world or about food. Lately my family has been browsing through our local newspaper and discussing one article at mealtime. This has brought up many insightful topics. This provides us the opportunity to explore new questions and ideas. We also sometimes talk about the food on our plates –  where the food came from, why it is good for us (or not, as the case may be) and other possible ways to prepare it next time.

Discussions during meals provides the opportunity to teach manners for both meals and conversations. All that talking also leads to eating more slowly. Eating slowly helps with digestion and provides the chance for the body to feel naturally full. This helps us with not over eating.

As we are all busy, even trying to sit down together a couple of times a week can have a big impact.

In the last few weeks I have listed 12 ways to engage your children and family in food and nutrition. While not all alternatives will appeal to everyone, there are a number of options that can be tried.  Please refer to the other posts in this series to see if any of them will work for you. Above all, do not stress and make it fun!

Engaging Kids in Food and Nutrition – Part 1

Engaging Kids in Food and Nutrition -Part 2  

Engaging Kids in Food and Nutrition -Part 3

Disclaimer:  The above information is intended for general public education and is not intended to be dietetic advice in any respect or to any person. Use of this information does not make any person a direct client of Tanya Brown,RD for any purpose and no such relationship will exist unless a formal client relationship has been entered into. Please consult your Doctor or a Registered Dietitian for individual recommendations prior to making any dietary or lifestyle changes.

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