Aside from starting kids off at an early age with good eating habits, I believe that making food look fun and appetizing is key to getting them to enjoy eating healthy food. My Japanese heritage reinforced the importance of presentation of meals.
Instead of fat and carbohydrate-laden, processed-food school lunches, you may have heard of the “bento-boxes” that Japanese moms make for their kids. Everything is carefully arranged, taking into account color, texture, size and shape of the food to create a work of art, almost too good to eat. See Bento Box Lunches and Adventures in Bento Making for more inspiration.
Carrots are cut into flower shapes and fruit into animals and you can even use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches into fun shapes. Having your kids involved in the process can also make them more engaged. Ask them which vegetables they would like with dinner, or what fruit they would like you to add in their lunch boxes.
Another strategy you make like to consider is one that my mother used on us as kids. Aside from my daughter, I am not sure that many of us are born with an innate love for vegetables, so when I was a child, my mother would make us eat a first course of salad or other veggies before we were allowed to have any meat/fish or rice/pasta/potatoes. Even though I didn’t like salad back then, I wanted to eat the other foods enough so that I would suffer through eating the less desirable foods in order to have what I really wanted to eat later. Now as an adult, I won’t ever consider a meal complete unless I have a salad or lots of vegetables as part of lunch or dinner. For breakfast, I make fruit and protein smoothies which my whole family loves.
When we are young, we think that we are invincible and will always be healthy, but that can only happen if we eat healthy — and establishing those habits at an early age, can save a lot of sadness from disease and other ailments later on, not to mention good brain function so our kids can succeed in school and we can do well at work. Here’s to lots of delicious, healthy and fun food!
Guest post contributed by my associate editor, Rie Shigematsu Collett, former spa owner, marketer extraordinaire, and health and wellness enthusiast.