We have always encouraged our children to make healthy eating choices right from their very first taste of solid food. Although we do have the occasional “sometimes food” it is important that my children establish good eating habits and learn how to make healthy eating choices for themselves. So as we’ve been learning about teeth and how to keep them healthy we have also been looking at food and how “we are what we eat”. So here are ten ways we encourage healthy eating in our home.

Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables
A few years ago I came across Kristine’s post Eating a Rainbow. At the time my son was only five years old and her suggested activities were perfect for him. You can read about our rainbow coloured recipe here. This really helped my son with understanding the importance of eating fruits and vegetables. So recently, we did the same activity with my daughters.

We started with a pile of magazines and grocery shop catalogues and found pictures of fruits and vegetables of all different colours. We sorted the fruits and vegetables pictures into colour groups.

We glued the pictures down onto the matching coloured paper as we talked about what the fruits and vegetables were called (turnip was a new vegetable for them) and I wrote the names beside them. Because our dinning room is also our learning room, we hung up our Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables above our interest table and later, they be stuck on our fridge so they can be used as a reference guide to choose healthy eating.

Cooking Together
We have a pile of kids cooking books that we have used over the years for learning in the kitchen but recently I came across Teepee Learning who makes these fantastic Healthy Alphabet Flash Cards. Each card has beautiful photographs of different fruits and vegetables as well as a recipe on the back of each card. 

Naturally we started with the Aa is for Apple card and made these yummy apple and cinnamon muffins before moving onto Bb is for Banana card and making Banana and Oatmeal Bars. These cards have added to my children’s love of cooking together while encouraging healthy eating choices. 

Learn about food groups
I downloaded the Australia Guide to Healthy Eating to show how other healthy foods fit into our diet.  I have always used the phrase “sometimes foods” when referring to less healthy items such as chips, icecream, lollies and chocolate for example. Since we were learning about teeth and how to keep them healthy, it was important to understand how these “sometimes foods” cause cavities and decay in our teeth as they lack the nutrition that we need.

Read about healthy eating
Last year Woolworths, together with Jamie Oliver, brought out a book called Jamie’s Garden which has encouraged my children to eat and grow fresh fruit and vegetables. They have returned to this little book a number of times to read about planting, cleaning, preparing and cooking fruits and veggies as well as how to grow them. We also have a range of fruit and vegetable magazines, thanks to my own interest in growing foods, that my children have been reading from time to time.

Grow food together
I’m not farmer and have had my fair share of dead plants but there is something so rewarding about growing your own food. Not only is it a wonderful way for children to learn about seeds, nature and how things grow, but its also a fantastic way for  them to understand where their food comes from. This is where children learn about being a producer rather than just a consumer. This last year we have grown watermelon and I would never had imagined the amount of learning that we have had from just planting those tiny watermelon seeds in our garden.

Planning meals together

This might sound like an odd thing to do but we sit down together as a family and plan our meals. Each of our three children choose a meal that they want to cook or help us prepare for the family each week. They sometimes use different cook books to find new recipes to make but overall, this weekly activity has encouraged healthy eating choices and supporting our children as they learn skills they will need later in life.

Shopping together 
Once a week, we take our meal planner and my children and I head to our grocery store together. In doing this, we are setting an example by making healthy food choices by buying foods that are  nutrienous and healthy for us. 

Eat meals together as a family
Many years ago I read somewhere that eating dinner together as a family at the end of the day was a great to establish good eating habits, setting a good example on healthy eating choices as well as create quality family time. 

Pack lunches when going out 
When I was young my mother used to always pack us lunch if we were heading out of the house for the day. I thought it was to save on money, which is a bonus, but it was so we could have fresh healthy food to eat while we were out and not have to rely on fast food. My mother set a great example for me as I have continued this and make healthy eating choices for my family when we are going out for the day.

Set the example
There have been times that I haven’t always set the best example when it comes to making healthy eating choices but as a parent and home educator, my actions speak louder than my words. So setting the example and choosing foods that are good for my body and mind will set the example for my children. 

You can find more activity and resource ideas as well as recipes over on my Kids in the Kitchen – Healthy Eating pinterest board.
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