one green planet
one green planet

As you probably already know, kids are like information sponges — every little thing we say or do, they’re listening and watching, even if we don’t always think they are. So, obviously, what we say and do around them matters — but we also need to extend this to what we eat and how we eat it. While this fast-paced world seems to necessitate quickly-made everything, from on-the-go breakfasts in the car in the morning to snack packs bought directly from the checkout line, we really ought to be doing a little better to teach children that what we eat (and how we eat it) matters. Here are 5 lessons we really ought to teach our children about food, broken down in simple kid-friendly ways, so that future generations have a chance to be a little healthier than the last:

1. You Are What You Eat

This one is simple — but it’s true. What we put into our bodies is then exerted out as energy. If we eat dead, charred, lifeless foods or packaged-up, bottled-up everything — we will eventually feel sluggish and trapped. On the contrary, foods that are alive (plants) and bright in color will equate to boundless energy and a more colorful life. A fun way to teach this lesson is to explain to kids that we are sort of like cars or machines — we have to fill ourselves with good “fuel” to feel good. If you eat a lot of greasy chips, you’ll feel greasy; but, if you eat a lot of shiny green vegetables, you’ll feel bright and alive! I know this is tough for kids to get when all they want to eat is the stuff marketed to them, but just keep the message going, and it will eventually stick.

2. Don’t Be Fast, Cheap, or Easy

The same way you might explain some other life lessons also applies to food too. If it’s fast to prep (like in a microwave), super cheap (think fast food specials), or really easy (like right from a package easy!), then it’s probably not so great for you. So avoid the stuff that’s fast, cheap, or easy in favor of things that require just a bit of prep to make sure it’s healthy. One great way to teach this is to show how you can make super-healthy homemade french fries at home — this requires some love and prep (it will be fun for you and your kids to do together, by the way!) — and yet save yourself the added bad ingredients, fat, etc. that might be found in a store-bought or fast food version of the dish.

3. Buy Stuff That Doesn’t Need Wrap Around It

This one is also simple. If it’s in a box or in plastic wrapping, then avoid it. The truly good stuff needs no packaging — fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and the like — you can pull these right from a bin or shelf at a grocery store or farmer’s market and bite right in. These are the foods you — and your kids — should be stocking up on. You could explain this to kids by making up a fun story about foods that don’t need packaging — perhaps tell them that these foods are so powerfully good for you that they can’t be contained in packaging!

Image source: USDA/Flickr