If you are a parent, you certainly know how difficult it is to motivate children to embrace a healthy diet. Since learning while having fun is a proven strategy that works at any age, I thought it could be useful to write about a few fun activities that can inspire parents willing to help their children discover and appreciate healthy foods such as fruit, vegetables and legumes.
Are you ready? Let’s have some fun!
- The Artist
Unleash your imagination by creating paintings and sculptures using fruit, vegetables and legumes. You can make a portrait using sliced fruit and vegetables, for instance. You can easily draw a face by using julienne carrots as hair, two slices of banana for the eyes, a slice of orange as a mouth and, finally, two strips of mustard as eyebrows. Many other drawings can be done using a sterile syringe loaded with yoghurt (or a cream of yoghurt and cucumber) or a balsamic vinegar sauce. When you are done with the drawing, take a picture of your creation, share it online with your friends to inspire them to do the same with their children and then … eat it together with your children! You can also organize a competition between different teams, for instance during a birthday party.
- The chef
Teach your children how to cook is probably the best gift you can give them. In order to get them accustomed to this healthy habit, start by involving them in the preparation of your meals whenever possible. Maybe during the weekend when you have more time. Preparing a simple salad can be the simplest way to make your children learn the basics of cooking. To make things even funnier, you can buy some chef’s hats for you and your children, and why not? Have a local printing shop print personalized hats and aprons.
When I was a child, I used to help my mom prepare fresh pasta and cakes and to cook at the primary school together with my schoolmates and my teacher. Those experiences were very important to me because it was back then that I discovered how pleasant (and useful) cooking is. Today I live on his own and I could never imagine myself eating pre-cooked food more than once in a while!
- The kitchen garden
If you have a small piece of land where you can grow vegetables or at least a balcony, the best thing you can do is to cultivate vegetables and herbs together with your children. Once you will have grown a sufficient amount of tomatoes and basil, for instance, you can prepare a fresh tomato sauce!
Never mind if you have neither a garden nor a balcony, on the internet you will find a lot of useful tools that you can use to create your own “home gardens”. The simplest example is a support you can use to place your vases vertically and save space.
As the old saying goes, you reap what you sow. And if you seed a genuine passion for fresh vegetables, you will one day see your child turn into a happy and healthy adult.
- The aromatic balcony
A complementary or alternative idea to the vegetable garden is to grow aromatic herbs on the balcony or on the window sill. Thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, can all grow very well both inside and outside (in the hot season) and are great to perfume your house and/or your balcony. If you grow a sufficient amount of basil, for instance, you can prepare pesto, the famous Italian sauce that goes well with pasta and sandwiches.
- Yogurt and muesli
Making yoghurt at home is an easy and healthy activity to do together with your children. Mix some fresh milk and some starters or a few spoons of natural yoghurt (you can find both of them in an organic food store). Use a yoghurt-making machine to keep the right temperature for the time indicated in the instructions. After that, put your yoghurt in the refrigerator and eat it cool with some fresh fruit.
Another idea is to prepare some muesli, which is an excellent complement for natural yoghurt. You can prepare it by mixing chopped nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.), dried fruit (raisins and other dried fruit) and wholegrain flaked cereals (oats, barley, etc.). The combination of yoghurt and muesli is a nutritious breakfast or snack.
These are just some ideas but your imagination is the only limit you have. Do you have any ideas for games and other fun activities that you used to teach your children to eat healthily? Write your suggestions in the comments below, or send me an email using the contact form on my site, I will be happy to publish your ideas as a complement to this post.