Fredericksburg Families

Amy Umble writes about family issues and kid-friendly events.

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Cooking skills “a gift from parent to child”

I’ve been working on a Healthy Living story about parents’ New Year’s resolutions, and one that always comes up is getting kids to eat better. I consulted local dietitian Nancy Farrell on the topic, and she had some tips that I thought were just too good to wait until this Sunday’s story.

Farrell emphasizes the role parents play in setting an example for what their kids eat.

“Kids emulate their parents and caregivers, so it is natural that they will adopt the eating patterns, for better or worse, of those who play an important role in their lives,” she said. “Oftentimes in my counseling sessions we work together to improve the nutrition practices of the entire family.”

She also urges parents to get their kids involved in the kitchen, to help give them ownership over what shows up on the dinner plate.

Here are a few of her tips:

- Make the child an integral part of deciding what is served at home. Let them come along to the market to pick out ingredients for the dishes they select.

- Allow children to assist in the kitchen, according to their age and skill level. “This may mean washing the food item, peeling mashing, slicing, etc.,” Farrell said. “I find that so many kids today do not know how to prepare and cook foods, let alone meals. Cooking is a lifelong lesson that encourages togetherness and bonding. It is a gift from parent to child.”

- Be willing to give foods that aren’t your favorites a try. If your child picks out a fruit or vegetable that isn’t your favorite, Farrell says, “Let your child take the lead in expanding your palate; sample with a smile no matter what.”

- Talk to your children about nutrition and the health benefits of eating well.

Read an interview we did with Farrell last year about her own kitchen habits here.



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