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Boost Your Family’s Interest in Healthy Foods

It Worked for Me!
By
WebMD Feature

A trip to the berry farm. Gardening. Saturday visits to the local farmers market. Cooking with your kids. All sorts of activities can help kids learn a valuable lesson -- that healthy food is a lifestyle, not just a diet. It's a great way to jump-start healthy weight loss in your family.

Take a cue from famed chef Alice Waters, who started the "Edible Schoolyard" program for kids in the Berkeley, Calif., school system. The concept: "Kids get to learn gardening, help vegetables grow from seeds, nurture and water them," says Kathleen Zelman, WebMD's director of nutrition. "It's fascinating for them, watching that metamorphosis -- and they buy into eating things simply because they grew them."

We asked WebMD readers: What activities do you use to spark enthusiasm for healthy foods? What's worked best for you -- for your family? Here are their ideas:

MJC02

  • Since DS was very small, we've gone to the local orchard almost weekly. Both kids pick their own fruit and veggies and eat half of it before we get home. Growing or picking their own fruits and veggies has taught them a lot about eating healthy, how things grow and the cycle of life. We all enjoy it very much!

AugustMom2004

  • I try to let my daughter help prepare food as much as possible. When she washes the vegetables or helps me mix a marinade, she is more likely to eat the food. 
  • I always try to treat new foods as a special treat. I told my daughter we were having baked fish for lunch one day because it was a special "girl's lunch." She dove right in and she still loves it. 

ksl5f

  • Getting kids involved in food prep really gives them ownership and increases the chance they will try new foods. We like to let our 3-year-old help cook. Both girls help carry fresh fruits and veggies in from the garden. Neither of them has ever refused to eat anything we have grown. This year, we had strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, bell peppers, green beans, black beans, acorn squash, and sweet potatoes. They both ate everything.

Lou091852

  • I am a big proponent of involving children in food preparation. I had a wonderful experience teaching special education preschoolers how to make whole-grain bread. It was magical for the children, the staff, and for me. 
  • My wife has encouraged school staff to feature one healthy food every week. During the school year, classes encourage children to try a new food and prepare it. They have tried various fruits, sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, apples and oatmeal. When you get kids involved in the growing, picking and preparation of food, they become much more interested. Learning from an activity is great for children. 
  • Another idea is to have simple ingredients laid out on a table, so that diners can compile their own plates or bowls for a meal. This gives them some control over what goes into their food. It also lets them experiment as much as they feel comfortable. You can do this with salads, vegetables and various dips, and even with garnishes for soups and casseroles.
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Need some quick, fresh ideas? Ever wonder what's behind the latest food headlines? Check in with Elaine Magee, RD, MPH.

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