Making healthy eating and exercise fun
Children's Health Mentioning the words “nutrition” and “exercise” even to an adult can cause “switch off”, but call them “eating” and “movement” (or even “play”), and there’s a fair chance of some sort of engagement.
When I was growing up, exercise was rarely seen as a separate activity. The sports gene had passed me by, but even so, over the years, I clocked up many miles walking to and from school, enjoyed cycling with Dad, playing badminton in our small back garden, as well as weekly dancing. Movement was either fun or a necessary means of getting from “A” to “B”.
As for eating, I witnessed my parents enjoying a wide range of home-cooked meals and home-baked goodies, and wanted to tuck in likewise. Smaller portions were the name of the game without the need for special “kiddie meals”.
The seeds we sow in the early years with regard to eating and movement, when watered with encouragement and a good dose of leading by example, can flourish into a lifelong love of healthy food and physical activity.
The internet is bursting full of artistic ideas on how to put a bit of imagination onto a plate and make food fun. Remember, however, to marry fun with nutrition! Involving children in preparation makes a fun activity.
How meals look is important, so think colourful food on brightly coloured crockery.
Easy shapes like trains or faces, especially of animals, can be modelled from various things such as moulded rice or omelettes and adorned with raisin eyes, half tomato ears etc. Think finger food and easy bites.
Smoothies, using a mix of fruits and small amount of greens, can satisfy a child’s sweet tooth with natural sugars (greens balance out the fruit sugars). Even better when topped with berries and served in a sundae glass, with long spoon.
Raw treats like bliss balls (a mix of seeds and dried fruits, rolled out in perhaps cacao and desiccated coconut) are easy to do and can make for a messy and fun activity!!
Including both fun “play” and eating as an integral part of a child’s day-to-day life helps to bed in a lifelong, health-giving habit.