February 23, 2016

The Health Benefits of Getting Your Kids Involved in the Kitchen

This post is authored by nutritionist Joy Bauer, MS, RDN; Joy Bauer is the health expert on NBC’s TODAY Show, founder of Nourish Snacks and a #1 New York Times best-selling author. In her newest book, From Junk Food to Joy Food, she transforms more than 100 fattening comfort foods into guilt-free favorites you can enjoy whenever you want.

 

Is meal prep a solo act in your house? Time to recruit some backup! There are so many great reasons to get your kids involved in the kitchen. Check out a few of the sweet rewards you (and they) can reap by teaming up for mealtimes:

 
No more food fights

It’s a simple equation that will make mealtimes less fraught: more freedom = less fussing. Give your kids the power to choose — a recipe, new veggie to prepare as a side dish, or even the theme of the meal — and (poof!) watch the complaining simply vanish. When you involve your kids with planning and prep a few nights each week, you’ll find they’re less likely to argue with you about what’s for dinner. Good food, good mood…sounds appetizing, right?

 
A chance to educate — and empower

When kids take an interest in food — where it comes from, what it tastes like, how to prepare it in a healthful way — it’s a great opportunity for parents to discuss the importance of diet. And education goes a long way! When kids truly understand WHY taking care of their bodies is so important, they’re much more likely to follow through. Talk to your children about how healthy food increases energy, helps you grow, makes you smarter, faster and stronger, can help prevent injury, and fight off germs. These are the types of messages that will get through to your child and help them gain an appreciation for healthy, fresh food.

 
Scoring much-needed family time

Taking the time to make a meal with your children and then sitting down as a family together to enjoy it is a great way to connect with one another. It not only allows you to bond but it also reinforces proper eating habits at an early age and gives your child the chance to explore new foods — something they may not be inclined to do at a friend’s house or at a restaurant. Learn to make leaner versions of your kids’ favorites — like tacos with ground turkey, pizza with toasted whole-wheat pita bread and reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, baked sweet potato fries and “unfried” chicken fingers. (For more great ideas, check out my new book, From Junk Food to Joy Food.) Pick five of your family’s standards and master a healthier, tasty version of each.

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