Health articles for kids are too often not engaging: not fun, a lot like work, and oversimplified. But even advantaged kids can be stumped about where food comes from (does lettuce come from a bag?), how it grows (root, bush or tree?), and how their bodies use it (for energy, or just poop?).
One good partial solution: Nutrition for Healthy Kids: You Are What You Eat, Part 1: written for home schooled kids, but a brilliant synthesis of what’s current and what’s time-tested, this short paperback is good for both kids and their parents. I wish I had written it!
Parents who bring chips, crackers, candy and treats to volleyball, soccer, swimming, baseball and football practice are indulging what they know many kids will like, but are actually zapping kids’ energy and muscle building prowess. It’s tough to break out of that, but fortunately, Wayne Brady shows how…with energy!
Kids will eat what they grow, cook, touch, explore, see…if it’s made fun, easy and convenient. Not too different than adults! Getting kids to eat vegetables, for example, is mostly about getting them to help in selecting, slicing, cooking when needed, and chewing them.
Five more ideas here, including the rule of 15: offer a food 15x, without judgement, especially if you can’t offer any of those prep techniques.
Here’s one difference in learning about food between kids and adults: most U.S. kids learn not by reading labels (generally) or watching health gurus (definitely out) but by doing. They often emulate their adults (usually parents but also teachers and coaches), and eat what’s right in front of them: also not too different than adults.
It might just be that to help kids learn about how food and nutrition works, we have to communicate in song, dance, media…and example. Check out kids’ gardens…they’re a secret weapon which Alice Waters helped to create in a vacant lot in Berkeley over 2 decades ago!