Food and Your Kids

We are glad you have decided to participate in shaping your child’s eating behavior. We know that poor nutrition is related to many health problems. By opening our children’s minds and palates to the many wonderful and delicious foods that are also health promoting we can prevent health problems later in their lives. This program is designed to teach children how to make healthful food choices and encourage them to practice these behaviors in their home and school environments.

Here are some activities you can engage in with your kids to help them learn about healthy eating:

World Wide Web

Visit Web sites for kids related to nutrition and health.

Food Guide Pyramid

Look for the pyramid on food packages. Does the label describe which category the food belongs to? Use the food label to figure it out together.

Call the free telephone numbers for food companies listed on the food label and get free nutrition information.

Categorize the foods you have eaten together into the food groups of the Food Guide Pyramid.

Food Shopping and Budgeting

Take your child on a trip to the supermarket, the farmers’ market, and a small convenience store. Ask your child to compare the produce items that you find in each store. Look for freshness, variety, and cost. Talk about the implications for choice and affordability. Compare stores in a large city to stores in a suburban town. Talk about the implications for people without a car or with a limited food budget.

Include your child in the preparation of your shopping list. Encourage them to suggest healthful snacks and agree to the items that will be purchased before leaving the house to reduce your child’s desire for Fats and Sweets foods.

Bring your child to the store and encourage them to help you select foods that are low in fat, sugar, and sodium.

Cooking and recipes

Plan to prepare a recipe from some of the foods your child chose for the shopping list.

Compare a store-made or pre-made food with a similar recipe you prepare together. What are the taste differences? What are the cost differences?

Share a family food tradition. While preparing a traditional recipe or recipes for a celebration, invite your child to participate and talk about the significance of the recipe and the celebration.

Tasting and choosing foods

Establish a new food club with your child. Together create a counting poster and mark each new food your child tastes. To make the counting poster:

Use any sheet of paper, the size may determine what you will use to designate the new foods your child tries.

Draw a grid on the paper with squares similar to a checkerboard that can be filled in to mark the new foods. You decide how large to make each square depending on what will go in them. We suggest using stickers and writing in the name of each new food or allowing your child to draw a picture of the new food.

Each time your child tries a new fresh fruit or vegetable, a whole grain, or a combination of these foods let him or her fill in a square of the chart.

Other ideas you can add: Fill a square when your child tries a food s/he did not like in the past. For added fun, include your child’s friends in your new foods club.

Plants, plants and more plants

When sharing a snack together, try to guess what part of the plant it is.

Draw a generic plant and label the parts.

Try growing some plant foods. Directions and information are contained in the children’s section of the web site, Grow it Yourself.

Visit a local farm and find out how the grower produces his or her crops. Compare an organic farm to a conventional farm. What are the differences?

Learn about sustainable living and your child’s future by contacting Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet. You can find this and other web sites in Links for Parents (and Other Grown-Ups).

Visit a soup kitchen or food pantry to help prepare a meal.

If you live in Connecticut contact the Connecticut Association for Human Services, at (860) 951-2212 to participate in an activity to reduce hunger in your area. If you live elsewhere in the U.S., contact the Food Research Action Center, FRAC, to find out what anti-hunger organizations are in your area.

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