Mumma’s example is a term my kids hear a lot… and something I heard as a kid too.
Follow my example, my lead, my action, my doing….. So much can be taught to kids about looking after their own health by following mumma’s example (or dadda’s or nanna's or pop’s or the many other significants in our kids’ lives).
As busy parents, doing the best we know how, we often forget how much our kids watch…watch what we are doing, watch what other adults are doing, their friends and other kids they see. An example whether followed or not, is a great teacher. Where kids today are eating more processed foods than ever, are sedentary more than ever and see less and less of people cooking from scratch… we need to highlight as many good examples of action we can.
If your kids are not the best breakfast eaters, that’s ok, show them how you start your day fuelling your body with the right stuff. If they are poor snackers, make yourself a tasting plate with brightly coloured fruits and veg and some protein and see if they eye it off, if you catch their eyes wandering encourage them a pick of your plate. Poor dinner eaters? Have you tried a rainbow of brightly coloured veg they can serve themselves from? Encourage them to try and make a face with the different veg and eat the face of their meal.
A recent win for me as a mumma was my 9 year old finally enjoying a smoothie with avocado, spinach, chia seeds, banana and milk. How did it happen? Repeated exposure, keep encouraging tries, it can take up to 10 tries for a child to like something new, and their little taste buds are constantly evolving. Add in a little dose of kind hearted deception, where once the smoothie was gulped down, the reveal of the ingredients that it contained was shared with the 9 year old and he was actually pleasantly pleased with himself. If you can give your children these great examples of your own healthy habits, you are half way there, setting the bar for what it means to become a healthy individual.
With an overdose of nutrition information, programs, blogs, TV shows, lunchbox ideas and a myriad of fads, its hard to know sometimes how to best encourage good feeding habits in our kids. My advice from working with thousands of kids, is keep it simple, keep it fun, keep it fresh and get them involved. It’s too easy to think that getting them into the kitchen is more hassle than what its worth, especially the clean up, but there are so many learnings they can take away from being involved.
They get to see whole foods in the kitchen, experience scents, tastes, processes, language, team work, sharing and caring and love. Don’t give up, as kids eventually come around.
And Mumma’s and Dadda’s don’t beat yourself up too much, guilt gets you no where. Be the best possible healthiest version of yourself and your kids will follow suit.. eventually.
Karen Koutsodontis, is the passionate founder and visionary for The Travelling Kitchen. A mother of three and a trained and practicing secondary school Food Technology teacher, Karen and her team of qualified teachers, educators, chefs, nutritionists and dieticians passionately take their hands-on cooking classes and healthy eating education to Victorian children. They have worked with close to 10,000 children in 2016. Tackling child obesity head on, this interactive and highly engaging program empowers children from an early age to look after their health and their bodies. Educating pre-school and primary school aged children about healthy eating, the program provides them with the necessary skills to prepare, cook and enjoy fresh, healthy meals with a huge focus on eating locally, seasonally and sustainably produced food.