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Nutrition Month 2019: Tips for cooking with your kids & having peaceful family meals

Jennifer House is a Registered Dietitian, author & mom of 3. From Baby-led weaning to picky eating and meal planning, she helps you to make feeding your family easier.

I’m excited to be part of this year’s Dietitians of Canada Nutrition Month Campaign again, as the media rep for the Calgary area. We are celebrating Nutrition Month 2019 by helping Canadians unlock the potential to:

Fuel: Stay energized by planning nutritious snacks into your day.

Discover: Foster healthy eating habits in children by teaching them to shop and cook.

Prevent: Understand how food can help prevent chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Heal: Learn how food can promote healing and how dietitians work in health care teams to make a difference.

Bring us together: Enjoy the benefits of bringing families and friends together with food.

As you know, in my practice I work to help make feeding families easier.  So I'm especially passionate about two of this year's themes:

Potential to Bring us Together

I've written about 5 benefits of family meals before, including your kids getting better grades to creating family memories.

And I love these tips from the Nutrition Month Fact sheet:

  1. Do give everyone at the table a chance to speak. This also gives your child practice taking turns and listening!
  2. Don’t use it as a time to scold or discipline picky eaters. We want to keep meals pleasant, not an anxiety-ridden battle ground everyone is afraid of. If you want more help dealing with your picky eater, grab my free video series "3 Tips to Manage Picky Eating."
  3. Do ask questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer. So, instead of “did you have a good day?” try asking “tell me something interesting that happened today. We like sharing our "highs" and "lows" from the day in our family.

Potential to Discover

Starting from a young age, inspiring children to shop, prepare and cook food can set them up for a lifetime of healthy eating.

Prefer to watch? Check out my clip on Global TV discussing getting kids in the kitchen.

Here are five tips for getting kids involved in the kitchen:

1.Incorporate learning 

Build on lessons they learn in school, such as math, science or reading! Younger children can practice fine motor skills by stirring and pouring.

2. Keep it fun!

Imaginative play helps children get involved. Make a theme night or turn your kitchen into a restaurant or reality cooking show. My kids love creating menus and taking "orders."
 Or create art: it’s fun for them to eat their art creation!

3. Be a role model:

If you’re excited to cook and try new foods, they will be too. Try a new food, describe the flavour and be adventurous to inspire your eaters to do the same. Get other members of the family involved. 

4. Be cool about the mess:

Spills and accidental messes happen, and it’s important to remain calm about inevitable mishaps. Keep kitchen towels handy for cleaning up spills. Cleaning up messes is a part of learning how to be in the kitchen, so get your kids to help clean up.

5. Pick a recipe together:

Children need to be part of the plan from the beginning, and it helps if they prepare something that they love to eat. Shop for groceries together too! Kids are much more likely to eat what they choose or help make, so cooking at home is a great tip if you have picky eaters.

Looking for some recipes to cook with your kids? Check out the Dietitians of Canada Cookspiration App or Nutrition Month recipes here.

This post was inspired by Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month campaign. Learn more at www.nutritionmonth2019.ca.

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