Raising Healthy Kids with Food

While it isn’t practical for the majority of people to move to a farm and start living off the land today, it is definitely tempting once you become aware of all the additives, pesticides, insecticides, etc. that are being added to foods before they hit the supermarket. Sometimes I wish I could chuck it all and move out to a farm and grow my own food!

The truth is that I didn’t used to think much about the foods I was eating, but that all changed once I became pregnant with our firstborn seven years ago. Suddenly, I was very aware of the foods I ate and what those foods were doing to my body, as well as, my unborn child’s body. I’ve learned a lot over the last seven years and I can say that my family is definitely a lot healthier than we were back then as I have a passion for fueling our bodies with the most nutritious foods available.

This is one trait that I desperately want to pass on to my children. Even though guidelines are supposedly getting tougher by the FDA, I can’t imagine that the quality of foods brought to the store shelves are going to improve that much over the next couple of decades. Therefore, it’s important to me to make sure my children grow up knowing what healthy food really is. After all, in order for our children to grow up healthy and to continue to make healthy choices, they have to be educated first, right?

So, how can we teach our children about eating healthy foods? Below are a few ideas.

  • Keep Chickens – Even if you live in a metropolitan area, there are many cities and suburbs that allow homeowners to have a couple backyard chickens. If you’re able to keep chickens, then you should definitely consider it. I am currently in the process of getting our place ready for backyard chickens because I know how much better quality of eggs my family will receive when raising our own chickens than those sold at the stores. And, additionally, I want my children to be able to see firsthand where eggs come from. If we get a few of our own chickens, then my children will not grow up thinking the only way they are able to get eggs is at the store. I want them to have the option to produce their own!
  • Manage a Garden – It doesn’t matter if you create a real in-the-dirt garden or if you choose to have a potted/raised flowerbed garden – the point is to manage your own food-producing garden. Believe it or not, kids love helping work out in the garden. It gives them something to do (my boys love the dirt, so this is heaven for them) and they enjoy going out and checking on the plants each day to see if there are any new fruits/veggies growing. Managing a garden is probably the best way that you will be able to teach your children about healthy foods and where they come from. Another thing you will be instilling in your children is taking pride in their work and enjoying the satisfaction of providing their own food to eat. It’s a very rewarding process and children gain a lot of knowledge through it!
  • Visit the Farmer’s Market – Most communities have a local farmer’s market where people come to sell their extra produce. Regardless of if you have your own garden or not, take the time to take your children to the farmer’s market and purchase some fresh produce. Your children will see all the fresh produce and other natural products there which will probably lead to questions about the things they see. These questions are your open window to educating your children about how the foods at the farmer’s market are different from the food at the grocery store and why it’s better. More than likely, if your children are raised attending farmer’s markets regularly, they will continue this “tradition” into their adult lives as well.
  • Cook Together – If your children are old enough to help in the kitchen, even minimally, then let them cook with you once a week. Young children love to be included in the kitchen so take advantage of this desire for inclusion! When your children are in the kitchen and are helping you mix ingredients together to make healthy meals, they will begin to ask questions about the foods that you are mixing together. For instance, my son has learned all about herbs like parsley, cilantro and rosemary during his time in the kitchen with me.

Do you want to know what the great thing is about all of these ideas? Every one of them make perfect summer activities. Sure, you may need to wait until next spring before you get chickens, but it’s never too late to start a garden and it’s definitely not too late to start attending the farmer’s market and cooking with your children! Take advantage of the months your children spend at home with you during the summer and teach them about healthy food and where it comes from!

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