Monday, January 31, 2011

Helping kids learn about healthy foods...

I have started talking to C monster about food, and what is good food and not-so-good food, why we buy organic, why I grow my own food and so on. When we do groceries and he asks for something, we talk about it. For example, if he wants a Reese peanut butter cup instead of just saying no straight out, we talk about it. I ask him if it's healthy, if it's going to make him grow big and so on. I suggest other food that are better for him, such a bag of cashews or yogurt. Or even suggest that we buy what we need to make a healthier organic version of the treat he wanted at home. I find these discussions avoid melt downs and also are the building blocks for him to understand what a healthy diet is.

Of course, he still gets treats sometimes, but instead of buying a big candy bar we get a small individual fair trade chocolate; since these are harder to find it does not happen that often. I am actually surprised with how much the monster already understands about fair trade and organic. The other day he told me that we don't get those apples because their was pesticides on them - "mama, not these pommes yucky on them, these OK mama?"

I also found a few games that are about food "let's go shopping" by Haba and "The Picnic Game" by eeBoo. "Let's go shopping" can be played as young as 2 1/2.

I particularly like "The Picnic Game" as the goal of the game is to collect one item from the following categories, desert, fruit, vegetable, main course, drink, plate and cutlery. This helps kids understand that their are various categories of food.

Another activity I have started to do with him is his Food Guide. I created a simple food guide with envelopes and cards that he can move around to count what he has eaten in one day. I actually find some days this helps to get him to eat -- other days he could not care about it. However it's a great help to us as throughout the day I just need to glance over at it to remind myself what else C Monster should eat for the day. Eventually I want to re-do it so it has a separate fruit and vegetable categories but I wanted to get him used to the 4 basic food guide categories first.

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