May is Family Wellness Month! Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s Outpatient and Community Liaison Dietitian Allie Lang, RDN, LDN, says one of the most important things you can do for your family’s health is cook more at home and ditch the takeout, as well as the processed and prepared foods.
“Cooking as a family is a great way to establish lifelong healthy eating habits for the entire family,” says Lang. “And when you involve the kids in cooking you can positively influence their food preferences and behaviors. A child who is confident in the kitchen will prepare much healthier options than a child dependent on packaged, microwavable foods. I know it can be less efficient and downright messy to cook with children but the benefits are well worth it.”
Lang offers some simple advice to involve even the youngest children in the cooking process. Let them pick out recipes from cookbooks or online, help with shopping, wash fruits and vegetables, measure out ingredients and stir sauces, batter and soups. Even little kids can mash vegetables, tear lettuce for a salad, set the table, crack eggs and juice lemons or limes. They can even help with clean up, doing dishes or loading the dishwasher or wiping down countertops.
“Don’t worry if your child is picky and dislikes the recipe you’re making,” says Lang. “It’s still fun to cook and it will encourage them to try what they have made.”
Lang also suggest you pick a night when you have extra time to cook with your child, like a weekend night, and make it as enjoyable as possible by putting on some fun music.
This Family Wellness Month, try some of these ways to get your child involved in making family meals and you’ll give your child the skills they need to follow a healthy diet into adulthood.
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