Turn Your Kids into Cooks for a Healthier Adulthood

Want your kids to be healthy eaters for life? Teaching them to cook when they're young may be the answer, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. Not only will learning to cook help them maintain healthy eating habits well into adulthood; they'll be more likely to avoid fast-food trips, eat nutritiously at home, and sit down with family to dine. The best part? It's easy to instill the love of cooking early on. Try these ideas and whip up some culinary fun with your kids:

Show by Example
If you don't do much cooking, your kids probably won't have the inclination either. Children learn from adults and adopt habits and interests through example. Be a role model for them to follow. Spend time in the kitchen making meals and snacks for the family. Most importantly, have a positive and enthusiastic attitude while you cook and create healthy, flavorful recipes that everyone can enjoy.

Make Recipes Kid-Friendly
Kids need time to become culinary experts. Make sure you adjust recipes to fit your children's interests and level of understanding. Use cooking terms that are simple, along with ingredients that are familiar yet wholesome. There are many places to look for youth-friendly recipes. Check online, invest in a cookbook for kids, or get recommendations from cooking-savvy friends and family members.

Begin with Baking
Baking is a good segue to cooking because it's easy to learn, fun for kids, and satisfying to their sweet tooth. Once they master how to bake their favorite treats, they're apt to try more challenging endeavors in the kitchen. If you're worried about the nutritional downfalls of baking, keep this in mind: homemade baked goods are healthier than their store-bought counterparts, which can be loaded with sugar and processed ingredients.
 
Take Them Grocery Shopping
Grocery shopping is productive entertainment for youngsters, especially when they have a part in selecting items. Help your kids write up a grocery list with foods they'll use to cook with. Research has shown that involvement in the entire process of cooking, including shopping for food, leads to better dietary habits long term. Plus, your kids will learn about the cost and nutritional value of different foods.
 
Host Cooking Days with Friends
Kids love spending time with other kids, so why not invite their friends over for a day of cooking? A group cooking activity is a great way to learn new culinary skills, socialize, and engage in teamwork as they prepare food with their peers. Have your children help decide what to make, gather the necessary cooking supplies and ingredients, and put together a cooking-day agenda.

It's never too soon to get your kids interested in cooking. You won't just engage them in a fun and useful activity; you'll help them improve their eating habits--and health--for life.

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