As parents, one of our biggest priorities is teaching the kids proper eating habits. At least a couple of times a day, I will check in with the kids and ask if they’ve gotten their five to ten. Each time, you can see them start to recall, and count on their hands the servings of fruit and vegetables that they’ve had that day.
Since Olivia’s able to identify and understand numbers, we’re at a stage where we can create the foundation to talk about nutrition tables.
Where do you start?
Talk Serving size. Though we’re fast to look at the calories or the amount of sodium in the foods that we’re eating, we often skip over the serving size. Compare this serving size to the serving size you’re likely to take when you’re eating – which shocked her – especially the serving size of her favourite fish-shaped-treats.
Serving size can be found under the header “Nutrition Facts”; then look at Percent Daily Value (% DV) on the right side of the NFt; then use the % DV to see if the Serving Size has a little or a lot of a nutrient – 5% DV or less is a little and 15% DV or more is a lot.
Let them tag along. Letting the kids tag along to the grocery store makes it easier to have them involved in making healthier choices. Noting the differences between two different brands of cereal, for example, and seeing the difference between brands or types of foods can be eye opening for kids – especially when you’ve got their attention with their favourite food or treats.
Focus on the fuel. Rather than talking calories with the kids, we like to focus on the fuel that we’re putting in our bodies. We talk about ‘filling up our tank’ a lot. Choosing the right foods help to fill up the tank longer, with better ‘fuel’. An apple or an orange, and a handful of nuts, rather than a granola bar from a box is not only going to keep you full longer, but it’s going to provide you with better ‘fuel’.
Lead by example. In addition to engaging the kids in making the right decisions, and reading the labels, you’ve got to set an example. Balance, moderation and making healthy choices, ensuring that the adults in our family are getting their own five to ten and making healthy and informed choices based on nutrition labels, is how we’re raising the kids to be healthy, and make their own nutritionally sound decisions.
Starting the conversation about nutritional values at a young age can help to create those healthy habits early. As a picky child, it was very important to me to raise the kids with healthy eating habits that would stick – giving them not only the information they need to make healthy decisions, but a wide variety of healthy food choices.
Having information at our fingertips and teaching the kids how to decipher that information, sets them up for a lifetime of healthy choices.