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Why you should teach your kids how to cook if you want them to eat healthier.

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One of the best ways to encourage children to eat healthier may just be to get them involved in the kitchen. Teaching kids how to prepare and cook meals makes it more likely they’ll choose healthier foods – and knowing how to cook is a valuable skill they’ll have for life. Of course, it’s important to always supervise children and teach them how to be safe in the kitchen.

Childhood obesity has risen to alarming rates and one major cause of this growing epidemic is our society’s dependence on super-sized portions of high-calorie fast foods. But you may be able to stop this unhealthy trend in your own family by getting kids involved in preparing some of the food they eat.

One study of 5th grade students published in Public Health Nutrition showed that kids who were involved in home meal prep were more likely to enjoy fruits and veggies than kids who weren’t involved in the kitchen. Other research indicates that enrolling kids in cooking classes or programs can have a positive influence on their food preferences and eating behaviors.

“I believe eating together as a family is important, especially in today’s busy lifestyles. It is important to put electronics away and catch up on each other’s days. It is also a time to ensure healthy eating choices.”

Stephanie M. Kelleher, MD, FAAP, Pediatric Medicine 

Teach kids how to make foods they love with healthier ingredients and they’re more likely to eat them. You can adjust what kids do in the kitchen based on their age, but even very young children can get involved by washing fruits and vegetables or mixing ingredients in a bowl with a spoon. There are also no-cook recipes that can get kids interested in healthier foods rather than grabbing something out of a box or a bag.

It’s also a good idea to let kids have some say in what goes on your grocery list or in the cart at the supermarket. Give them a few healthy options and let them decide what makes the final cut. By doing this, they’ll feel like they choose what ultimately winds up on their plate. You can also take them with you to a local farm or plant your own garden so they get to see where their food comes from.

The more you can get kids interested in preparing the food they eat, the more likely you’ll set them up with skills they can use for a lifetime that promote healthier eating.

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Date Last Reviewed: June 12, 2019

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Nora Minno, RD, CDN

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