While the idea of a "normal family" is changing, and gender roles are becoming less and less important, society still insists that moms are the main caretakers, and any other parents (especially the dad) are secondary "helpers." Yeah, no. While two parents isn't necessary for a child to grow up in a healthy, stable and fulfilling environment, when two parents are present, they should be equally present. So, it's no surprise that there are things dads can and should teach their kids, especially when it comes to healthy eating and cooking. Gone are the days when the kitchen was simply "mom's territory." Now, everyone cooks.
In my house, I am not the only one in the kitchen or cleaning the house. Instead, my partner and I take turns taking care of any cleaning and cooking duties (and, sometimes and if our schedules aline, we clean and cook together). We've found a balance where our parental and adult responsibilities are shared equally, regardless of our genders or what society arbitrarily decides one of us should or shouldn't do.
So, by rotating duties and sharing household responsibilities, we are showing our daughter that it's not automatically a mother's "job" to handle domestic issues. By having my partner teach her about healthy eating and cooking, she's not just reminded that everyone should be responsible for their own health and wellness, but that her place isn't "in the kitchen." She gets to be healthy and we get to smash the patriarchy, all at the same time. Win-win, you guys. So, dads, here are a few ways you can teach your kids to eat healthy and take care of their bodies:
Wash Your Hands With Them
Kids love to imitate. If you wash your hands around them and on a consistent basis, they will be more likely to see what you are doing and try to do the same. I mean, you have a child so the germs are freakin' everywhere. If something as simple as washing your hands regularly can keep you from that unnecessary (and often expensive) pediatrician visit, it's more than worth it.
Setting An Example With Your Own Diet...
While your kid may not always listen to you, they will always be watching you. So, if you say to eat healthy but you don't do the same, setting a precedent for healthy eating is going to be nothing short of difficult. Start with your own diet (especially because it's good for you and yay health!) and then it will be easier to focus on your child's.
Avoid Labeling Certain Foods As "Bad"
There are food that aren't as healthy as others, but foods aren't inherently "good" or "bad." Foods don't have morals, you guys. If you want to limit certain foods in your home or in your diet, like carbonated drinks or sugary snacks, have at it, but avoid calling them "bad" foods. That label, while seemingly harmless, can create an unhealthy relationship between food and your kid.
Drink Water With Them
Doing things together always make it make better than doing them alone. Water, for some, may actually have a taste and be something people enjoy. However, for other people, it is plain, boring, and not appealing. If you drink water together, it instantly becomes more enjoyable regardless of the taste, because it's something you can share doing together.
Encourage Eating Until You're Full
Most children just instinctively eat until they're full, because they haven't been bombarded by a society that values thinness. So, really, this will probably be pretty easy. You can also model this behavior yourself, by not over-eating and not limiting your food intake drastically. Simply eat until you're full, and enjoy food the way it was meant to be enoyed.
Make Up Fun Games With Healthy Foods
Games with healthy food may sound difficult, but really, it just takes a little imagination. One game, suggested by Parenting, involves pointing out different types of meat at a deli and asking your child what animal it is from.
Make Up Fun Songs About Healthy Foods
s an avid Disney fan, I remember watching shows like Kitchen Kabaret and Food Rocks In The Land Pavilion when I was a kid, and I've grown up listening to the songs about food and which foods are healthy foods. You can listen to ones created by other people or use your own imagination and make up songs of your own. Trust me, food songs rock.
Make Meals Colorful
A plate of green and brown vegetables may not be as appetizing as a plate of red and orange and yellow vegetables. So, by making a plate more colorful, you not only make it more visually appealing to your child, but you also have the ability to include more food groups on your child's plate. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there are five food groups from which you should be getting nutrients every day. Each of these food groups should be represented at each meal, making plenty of opportunity for lots of color on a plate.
Take Them To Buy Fresh Fruits And Veggies At A Local Farm Or Farmer's Market
What is the single most fun thing to do as a kid that has to do with healthy eating? Go pick your fruits and veggies from a farmers market or the farm itself. What's more fun than being in the middle of the process from the very start all the way until you finish and eat your meal? By including your child in this process, you offer them the ability to choose what specific foods they would like to eat and give them the ability to see it in a more natural environment than a grocery store.
Start A Fresh Food Garden With Them
Gardening isn't a gender-specific hobby, my friends. Dad, get out and plant some vegetables! I mean, this creates an interactive opportunity to teach your kids about planting, growing and harvesting your own food.
Let Them Help You Cook For Mom
This is just smart parenting, dads.
Help Clean Up After A Meal
Whether you made dinner or just ate it, help out by cleaning up. By helping do your part in cleaning up the kitchen, you kids will be more encouraged to help clean up, too, and all activities surrounding the consumption of food will become family activities. You can even make it fun by dancing around the kitchen and singing songs or assigning cleaning duties and seeing who can finish first. Hey, no on said cleaning had to be boring.