Teaching kids about local seasons can bring diversity to their plate
Educating kids about seasonal foods has numerous advantages as it not only teaches them about the origins of food but also connects to other concepts like time, weather, and seasons. Here is how teaching them about local seasons can bring diversity to their plate.
The health of young children is currently suffering the most as junk food dominates good eating habits. The effects of placing flavour above health have been detrimental to children's health. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables have a crucial part in your child's health and meet their bodies' needs for various nutrients. Whether it's winter greens, summer greens, or rainy greens, instilling the habit of eating seasonal treats in youngsters will enable them to reap a variety of advantages. Teaching kids about seasonal foods has numerous advantages because it not only teaches them about the origins of food but also connects to other concepts like time, weather, and seasons. (Also read: Tips for parents to introduce healthy habits in their kids at an early age )
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Mansi Zaveri, Parenting Expert and Founder and CEO of Kidsstoppress, says, " As parents, it is important we help them establish a connection and liking for food and bring in diversity in our child’s plate. Food is never good or bad. It’s never healthy or junk. Those are labels. Food is either nourishing or not. Food and cooking are not a chore, it’s stories, health, community, and wisdom all passed from one generation to the other. Bringing diversity to your child’s palate is fairly easy if you hop over to the sabji market with them and make them see the veggies, touch them, smell them and ofcourse cook with them telling them stories about it. My kids have grown up eating lasuni bajra in winter, dal batti and gatte ki sabji in monsoons and they know the reason why. In the monsoons, we rely on pulses and dals because the leafy greens don’t grow."
She further says, "Not only do they taste better, but they also add variety to our diet. Come winter with the appearance of methi, saag, gobi, mooli & shakarkandi in the markets, the summer veggies like bhindi, lauki or tindli are pushed to the back. Mind you all these vegetables are available all year round now. But what they lack is - flavour and nutrition ‘coz of packing them in cold storage. My weekends are never complete without a visit to my local bhaji wala and I make sure my kids accompany me every week. I want them to be a part of the process so they also understand what is fresh seasonal produce and this way, they also appreciate what they eat. You would agree with me when I say that food habits can’t change overnight, but they have to be taught from the very beginning. Even if you don’t see immediate success."
She suggested some helpful tips to instil seasonal food habits in kids:
1. Involving kids in the process:
Take your kids along when you go grocery and veggie shopping. Involve them when you chop or peel the vegetables and talk to them when cooking. When they are excited about the process, they will be excited about the result on the plate.
2. No choices but more stories:
There is no optional food made for any member of the family unless, of course, they are allergic. When they see that everyone is eating the same thing, they learn to accept and appreciate it better. Also when they know they don’t have a choice, survival mode kicks in.
3. Don’t fool them:
Don’t ever tell them to eat something and lure them with a treat after. This is the treat. You cannot make this food sound like a raw deal to them.
4. It’s all or none:
it can never be an all-or-none approach. Most parents lose interest if the kid doesn’t eat the bhaji, the dal and everything together and eats only one of them. Treat family favourites just like how you introduce solids to your kids. One at a time. You expose them but you are really aiming for them to be like one of the many. It’s a great start. Let them try everything from broccoli to lauki. From khakras to khichdi - variety is the spice of life after all.
Remember, children always imitate what their parents believe in. So you need to start these young and healthy habits for the entire family. When you take kids on a trip, let them try the local cuisine. If they don’t like it, don't push it. Food can never be forced, it has to be enjoyed. Always respect your child’s food preferences.