Have you heard? Anne of Green Gables is back on TV. CBC has created a new series telling the story of our favourite red-headed PEI character. Now you may be thinking, “Um, Kristen, I don’t read your blog for TV updates, I read your blog for child nutrition”. Just stick with me for a minute, because I’m not really going to be talking about Anne of Green Gables. I’m really sharing a tip for supporting your child to become a healthy eater.
So what’s the connection between Anne of Green Gables and nutrition for kids?
My first cookbook, given to me as a child, was the Anne of Green Gables Cookbook. I still have it. So, whenever I think of Anne of Green Gables, I think of cooking. Specifically, I think of my first times in the kitchen as a child. I remember pouring over the pages of this cookbook, carefully choosing the recipes that I would try. Saucy Chicken, Thousand Island Dressing, Diana Barry’s Favourite Raspberry Cordial, Coconut Macaroons, and Anne’s Liniment Cake were all made by a school-age, picky-eater, yours-truly. Not every recipe turned out. But I remember feeling very grown-up indeed as I made them. With the knowledge that I now have as a dietitian and child nutrition expert, I know that I was building self-efficacy, self-esteem, cooking skills, and food-confidence. It’s amazing what one little book did for my future nutritional health.
And so, I want to encourage you to empower your kids with food by cooking with them. Teaching kids how to cook is an important life skill. One really can’t be a healthy eater if one doesn’t cook. And, cooking is learned by doing.
Preparing food can help a picky eater overcome their reluctance to try new foods. Toddlers and preschoolers are at the developmental stage when they want to do things for themselves. Use this to your advantage! I’ve known many a little one who will happily try some salad that they “made”, when they otherwise wouldn’t have touched lettuce with a ten-foot pole.
Get kids in the kitchen young. Get them helping to make a wide variety of foods. Don’t just bake treats with them. Help them to build familiarity, confidence, and positive memories with healthy foods too.
Safety is important in the kitchen. With adult supervision, there are lots of safe things that kids can do. Here’s some ideas:
What Toddlers and Preschoolers Can Do in The Kitchen
- Tearing lettuce
- Tossing a salad
So whether you buy a kids cookbook or invite your child into the kitchen to make family favourite dishes, I encourage you to use this strategy for minimizing picky eating.
Looking for some new recipe ideas? Check out these healthy (and delicious) kid-friendly recipes.