I was chatting with my dental hygienist one day about homeschooling, and she surprised me by saying that the homeschooled kids she sees in the practice often have more cavities than the kids she sees who go to school away from home all day. I was stunned by this news and wanted to know more. She explained that it’s because homeschoolers eat so much more often than kids in schools do. That seems to be true, and this post will teach you some easy-to-implement practices to help you feed your family better.
Just as modeling behavior is important in other aspects of teaching, it’s important in this instance, too. It’s a no-brainer: but obviously, if your kids see you going through a bag of chips instead of grabbing for fruits or veggies, they’re going to want to, too. Likewise, if you are eating carrots dipped in hummus with your kids, but all you can think about is a donut, don’t say it out loud. Keep those thoughts to yourself and then sneak out later and eat the donut. Just kidding. Sort of.
This goes along with modeling. If your kids see you planning meals, they will begin to learn that eating healthy takes thought and planning. When your kids get old enough, teach them about the importance of balancing protein, carbohydrates and fats. Teach them about macronutrients, and what happens to the body when these things are not in balance. Give your older children the job of being the meal planner for the family. This is an important life skill.
Make your grocery shopping trips part of a homeschool lesson on nutrition. Teach your kids how to read labels. Look at items and decide how you can combine these macronutrients to create a healthy meal and snack. This is something that kids of all ages can begin to learn.
A little bit of prep work goes a long way. Choose one day a week to carve out a chunk of time to prep healthy snacks. Wash and cut up veggies, make up a fruit salad and a large regular salad. Make up a batch of hummus or other healthy dip. Combine all your leftover nuts/raisins/etc. and make up a trail mix for the week. Once you’ve done this prep work, decide what you can package up into smaller portions for an easy grab-and-go meal or snack.
Teamwork makes the dream work, it’s true. Involving your kids in all aspects of planning healthy meals and snacks for themselves and the whole family makes everyone healthier. It teaches them important life skills, and if you combine the science behind it, and discuss this often enough, perhaps you can create a course in your homeschool that can be used as a high school credit. That’s a win for everyone!
What types of things do you do to make your life in the kitchen easier while teaching your kids about healthy nutrition?
Terri L. Hedrick, M.S. is a Catholic homeschool mom to two teens. She is also an online instructor to hospital-homebound students, a homeschool consultant and curriculum creator for Our Happy Medium Academy. She blogs about homeschooling and homesteading at Our Happy Medium. When she’s not working, you can find her in her garden or up on top of her horse.
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