Include kids in the kitchen to foster healthier eating

Dietitian Denise Coots suggests allowing children to choose from several healthy options at mealtime. 

August is Role Modeling Month, and nutrition experts say kids learn how and what to eat by watching their parents.

In this week's Family First, SSM Health Dietitian Denise Coots said grocery shopping, food prep, and cooking can be a chance for families to explore healthy eating together.

"Have your kids help you unload the groceries, have them help you bring it in, try to put it away, start to wash it if that's what you're going to do," she said. "Give them a hand in every part of it."

That can mean bringing the kids to the store, working on putting food away or even making lunch or dinner together, Coots said.

"You can do it by bringing food home, and looking up a recipe together," she said. "You end up preparing that fruit, vegetable, or food, and then your kids learn a new food that they're willing to try."

Coots said getting kids involved from start to finish with each and every part of eating creates lifelong healthy habits.

That's because meals aren't always something in which kids get to have a say.

"You're giving them a little bit of control when you involve your kids, and children like to have control," she said.

Coots said including the youngest members of your family in the kitchen pays off big time, even if it's only a couple meals a week.

"I can tell you it doesn't happen every night here, because there are a lot of hang ups that can happen," she said. "But that's okay, try to do it as much as you possibly can."

Watch KRCG 13 next Friday at 5 p.m. for the next Family First segment - we'll talk to a pediatrician about the importance of eating together as a family.

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