Key 1: Create an environment where your kids appreciate wholefoods
One of the keys to teaching your kids to be lovers of wholefoods is to surround them with good food choices. Exposing them to a variety of foods from different cultures free of preservatives and any other nasties will give them a taste for real food and real flavours. The first few years are foundational to building good habits.
Key 2: Expose kids to a variety of foods, even the ones you don’t like eating
Now this is a biggie for me. So it’s confession time – I don’t like eating raw tomatoes! I wish I did because they look scrumptious hanging from the vine in our summer garden. But when our kiddies came along, I was determined not to pass that dislike onto my kids. The first one was fine, she ate pretty much everything but then my next two didn’t. I would even go to the extent of pretending to eat the raw tomato when sitting at the dinner table but nope it just wasn’t in them. I tried! So my advice is – give them the opportunity to decide for themselves, don’t say anything to put the idea in the head and in the end, they will choose what they like and what they don’t like.
Key 3: Food is primarily to nourish you not to emotionally comfort you
Hands up if you are guilty of this one? Both my hands and feet are up! I like eating chocolate but there are some days when you just need that big bowl of pasta to make the world right again. It’s important to role model to our kids that food is first and foremost there to nourish us, give us good health and not to look to food to meet our emotional needs.
Key 4: Reward kids with your presence not food
A few years ago, in my other life, I was completing a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and went on my first practicum. Being a home schooling mum, I didn’t last, it was just too restricting and regimented for my liking. But what really took me by surprise was the jar of lollies on the teacher’s desk. I was amazed with the epidemic of childhood obesity surrounding us that the Department of Education would allow this but that’s a conversation for another day. My love language is quality time and if I am going to reward my grandie, she gets me! My time is her reward not food. Let’s face it, most of us grew up being rewarded with lollies but it’s a new day and time to do things differently!
Key 5: Get your kids involved in the planning, shopping and creating dinner
This is my favourite! I love teaching kids how to cook and so when my kiddies were in their growing years, I would involve them in the cooking process. As they grew older, I would have them plan a meal once a week, write out a shopping list, I would go to the supermarket with them, let them meander up and down the aisles and them I would wait for them at the register to pay for the food items. Then we would go home and the cooking would begin. Today they are all very capable and fabulous cooks! My next adventure is with my grandies!
Key 6: Practice hospitality and gather your family and friends around the table serving wholefoods
Now this is at the heart of who I am. I love to gather my family and friends, opening not only my home but ultimately, my heart. I love to cook from scratch and present to them wholesome food filled with love. There is only one table and everyone from every generation gets to sit at it. There are no ‘children’s’ tables to one side or let’s get the kids fed so then we can sit and eat – nope we gather young and old and together we feast. This is one of the greatest keys you can hand to your children.