4 Everyday Ways to Get Your Family Eating Healthy
Health and Nutrition We all know it’s important to keep kids’ brains sharp over summer vacation. Now that includes keeping kids’ farm-to-school skills up, too.
Thanks to efforts of parents, teachers, school nutrition professionals and farmers across the country, farm-to-school programs are blooming everywhere.
Farm-to-school activities promote childhood wellness by serving locally grown and processed food in school meals. These programs also engage students in food and garden-based education in the classroom, cafeteria and the community.
According to the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census, there are more than 5,000 school districts across the country teaching 23.6 million students where their food comes from, along with essential skills for lifelong healthy eating. Add to that mounting evidence that shows growing, cooking and eating as a family leads to a whole host of benefits, from health and academics to leadership and well-being.
Here are four ways you can keep your kids’ farm-to-school skills sharp this summer and improve your family’s relationship with healthy foods.
1. Grow together
Kids who grow, tend or harvest vegetables are more likely to eat them. Who doesn’t want that? You can get your kids growing whether you cultivate a windowsill, wall, backyard, or community garden plot. Not sure where to start? Potted herbs are easy to grow and add a lot of flavor to your dishes.
2. Pick together
When your kids choose their food, they are more likely to eat it. You can get locally grown foods at grocery stores, farmers markets and farm stands. When it comes to eating fruits and vegetables, quantity matters. Fresh, frozen, dried and canned are all great choices. Wherever you shop, challenge your family to reach for a rainbow of fruits and vegetables at least once a week.
3. Cook together
It may be messier. It may take longer. But, the time you spend cooking with your kids is time well spent. Kitchen skills do three important things for kids:
Reinforce abstract math skills
Illustrate science concepts
Teach valuable life skills
Plus, if your kids help cook it, or name the dish they made, they are more likely to eat it. Aim to try a new kitchen skill or make a new dish each week this summer.
4. Eat together
It may not always be easy, but there is real value in sitting down to family meals at least twice a week. Turn off the TV, put away your mobile phones and really connect as a family. With mealtime, if kids serve themselves, they are more likely to eat it. Encourage your family to fill half their plate with fruits and vegetables and the rest with protein, whole grains and dairy.
The bottom line is, anything you do to engage your kids with food works. You don’t have to be a green thumb or chef yourself. The important thing is that your kids see you having fun growing, cooking and eating together.