October 28, 2014

...Health & Happiness: Bring in the Munchkins!...


Today I had two eye opening experiences when it came to nutrition.  The first was listening to a TED talk by Jaime Oliver.  In this speech he discusses the growing crisis among our nation's children.  Not only are they the first generation that are projected to not live as long as their parents, but they also are not being educated about food or even being provided with good food.  It's heartbreaking and I believe could drive people to action.  If you have 20 minutes, give it a listen! 

The second experience was during my last swim lesson of the night.  I was talking to my students about dinner and one told me that he'd had a hamburger and mashed potatoes for dinner.  I asked him if he had any vegetables.  He told me he had carrots.  Great!  But then the shocker, the other student simply asked "what are vegetables?"

Uhhhhh.  What?

She clarified by asking for examples of vegetables.  But still!  How is this sweet little girl not able to name vegetables!?  She even asked me if eggs were a vegetable. 

How are things like this and the things Mr. Oliver talks about happening? 

So I'm here to charge all you mom and dad readers out there.  Heck!  All you aunty, uncle, grandparent, and friend to kids readers!  It's time to get children involved with what is being served on their plates. 

I do not have children.  But as a former educator/child care provider/preschool teacher, I can tell you... kids like food.  They like to talk about it.  They like to prepare it.  They like to serve it! 
 So if you're in a position that many parents are finding themselves in these days, where you just don't know how to get your kids to eat fruit and veggies, I want to encourage you that there ARE ways to get them interested!

1.  Give them the power.  Not all of it!  But some will go a long way.  If your kiddos are involved in the meal planning process, they are more likely to eat what you prepare for them!  So make a thing of it.  One night, sit down as a family and talk about what everyone would like to eat throughout the rest of the week. Get on Pinterest, open some cookbooks, or flip through food magazines!  Maybe even create a fun family meal board where you can write out a recipe/grocery list.
2.  Take them shopping. Take your children with you to the grocery store.  Yes, yes I know this is probably a lot harder than it sounds.  But think about it.  If you take Jimmy and Suzie to the store with you, let them hold the shopping list, have them put the veggies and fruit in the cart... not only are they getting hands on experience but they are getting to participate in what they will later consume. 
3.  Educate them.  During your trip to the store, you can even talk with them about where each different food comes from.  Most children don't know where food comes from.  They think it comes from the grocery store.  They don't know that grapes grow on a vine or that potatoes grow in the dirt.  So talk with them about it and make it a fun field trip instead of a chore.
4.  Hand over the chef hat.  Get your kiddos in the KITCHEN!  Kids LOVE to cook.  My cooking/food units in my preschool teacher days were always the most popular.  The kids loved pouring ingredients into the bowl, mixing things up, and watching as everything came together.  Yes, dinner prep might take a little longer.  But, I guarantee you that those munchkins are more likely to eat a salad or roasted carrots or sauteed green beans if they help with the prep.  Even if it's just letting them wash the veggies, or add the oil, or toss them on a baking sheet. 
5.  Cut the junk.  Finally, get the crap out of the house!  I mean it.  Keeping junk food in the house is NOT helping anyone.  "But Haley, my kids will pitch a fit if we don't have X, Y, Z foods in the house."  First of all... junk food is NOT food.  If it didn't come from the ground or if it didn't have a mother, it is considered processed frankenfood!  So no one should be eating it.  There are plenty of recipes out there for healthy alternatives to the junk, you just have to look for them.  And with living in the age of Food Network, Pinterest, and healthy food blogs, there's no excuse.

 Children are incredible. We love them.  We want the best for them.  So why not provide the best we can for them in even the simplest things.  I know some will think that I can't demand that all you parents do all these things because I don't have children and I don't understand what comes with being a parent. 

You're right.  I don't FULLY understand.  But I know what we as adults are capable of.  I know how much parents love their children.  I know how much parents do/would sacrifice for their littles too.  So is it really that crazy?

Think about it.

Stay strong brave ones!

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