Practical Ways to Teach Your Kids Healthy Eating and Shopping Habits

I am constantly trying to teach my children that real food, before it is muddled and over processed, is the best choice for their growing bodies. We go to Farmers Markets and they see the beautiful displays of fresh strawberries, blueberries, avocados (this is LA, after all!) and we talk about the beautiful hues that are available in natural foods.

1. Point Out All of the Colors Present in Nature

The bright reds, deep blues, and rich greens were not concocted in some laboratory somewhere, but grew in fields that real people tended to. I always introduce them to the farmers because making a commitment to eating healthy involves meeting the people behind your food.

2. Go to your Local Farmers Market

Farmers Markets make me so happy. There are the delectable samples of fruits offered up for the taking, fresh cut sunflowers that are bigger than my child’s head, and smiles all around. The foods that are offered are seasonal, because, as I explained to my kids, foods must be grown locally and that depends on the weather and the seasons. Believe me, a Los Angeles kid doesn’t know from seasons, so we give the lessons when we can.

3. Choose Foods that Go Bad

Foods with long shelf lives make me wary. Our children do not need all of those additives and preservatives. Thankfully we live in a place where food is in abundance, so we don’t need to stock up.

4. Try Something New

Try introducing a new fruit or vegetable into your child’s diet. Don’t get stuck in the macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets rut. If you cut up a fresh salad and have your children help you prepare the vegetables that they picked out that morning from Farmer Sally’s stall, they will feel much more inclined to eat it. Trust me.

5. Avoid foods with Multiple Ingredients

Did you ever notice how the bright orange Cheetos glow stays on fingers for hours after it is consumed? That’s not a good thing. Pick up a box of cookies at the supermarket, and take a quick glance at the ingredients. You will see that there is nothing speedy about this process. The ingredients list is exhausting and mostly unintelligible to the naked eye.

6. Limit or Eliminate Processed Sugars

I have a killer sweet tooth. SweeTarts were going to be the death of me until I had a major intervention (self-inflicted, I mean, imposed), and I swore off processed sugars. You know what happened? Fruits started to taste so much more amazing and sweet. I bit into an apple and it felt like it was the best apple I had ever bit into, period. I can’t look at a Sweet Tart the same way.

7. Be in Awe of Nature

Nature continues to impress me on a daily basis. Recently, Researchers at the University of Cambridge, UK, made an astounding fruit related discovery. There is a plant in Africa, Pollia Condensata, that is the “more intensely colored than any previously known biological substance.” The fruit reflects light differently depending on where the light hits it, giving it an iridescent blue coloring. Cooler than that, even though the fruit has no nutritional value, scientists believe that birds use it to attract mates. Talk about a blinged out bird’s nest…

8. Plant a Backyard Garden

Make a promise to your family to incorporate more foods that do not come out of a box or a can. Plant a garden in your backyard. Believe me, I don’t have a green thumb (I’ve managed to kill cacti, seriously), but rosemary thrives in our yard. We have tomatoes, and basil growing at a rapid rate. Bruschetta, anyone? Once we have a better understanding of all of nature’s gifts, we will be less inclined to muddle with them. After all, why mess with a good thing?

9. Think Big

And while you’re at it, please think bigger. Want to bring a salad bar into your child’s public school? This is a very real possibility. Check out Whole Kids Foundation for more information.

10. Bring your Teacher an Apple.

Let’s do this, people!



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