How to make healthy food fun for children
Getting your children to eat healthily can be an ongoing battle, especially if they are particularly prone to turning their noses up at greenery.
Eight-year-old Ben is inspecting the pesto sauce he has just made with his classmates.
“It looks disgusting,” he says. “But I’ll try it.”
Ben is on a cooking course run by Lottery-funded organisation Let’s Get Cooking, set up by the Children’s Food Trust in a drive to get schoolchildren eating and preparing healthier food.
Ben and his classmates are invited to get involved with every stage of the cooking process, from touching and smelling the raw ingredients, to working out the recipe instructions and helping with food waste and washing up.
Children come away from the course with an enthusiastic new approach to food. They get to make colourful fruit smoothies, design their own sandwiches and host dip parties.
Making healthy food a core part of school life is at the heart of the School Food Plan run by the government.
In recent years school dinners have improved drastically in the health and taste stakes. Fresh vegetables and delicious recipes replace the usual processed, deep fried, dubiously animal-shaped offerings from school canteens.Unfortunately at the latest count only 45% of children take the school dinner option, with the majority bringing in packed lunches.
A government report has advised head teachers to ban packed lunches as many contain crisps, chocolate and sugary drinks.
For many parents it is a massive challenge getting children to eat healthily, especially when they’re used to eating their favourite junk foods.
The trick, experts say, is to introduce children to cooking as early as possible. Teach them about different ingredients and tell them what each food does for the body.
Chef Monica Galetti says she encourages her daughter Alanis to eat healthily by laying out ingredients on the table and empowering her to make what she wants.
Alanis apparently loves choosing food and spending quality time with her mother.
Always make sure you supervise your children when they cook, and warn them of the many dangers found in the kitchen.
If you want to educate your children about nutrition but know very little yourself, you can hire a nutritionist to talk you through the basics and work out a child-friendly recipe plan. For more information, please visit our Schoolchildren and Teenagers page.
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