Teach young people good nutrition habits

Help your kids in the kitchen to set them up for life. 

Good nutrition habits don’t just improve physical health – they also boost our mental wellbeing. Eating well can increase mood, focus and self-esteem.

Getting young people into the kitchen can help them out for life. Here are some ways to teach your kids to get involved with cooking and help them develop a healthy relationship with food.

Take them shopping

The first step in creating good food is knowing where it comes from. It’s worth taking your kids grocery shopping for ingredients. Make sure to include lots of veggies, and stick to a budget to show them how nutritious meals can actually be cooked pretty cheaply.

fruit and veg

Encourage them to check the ingredients in products, and compare different options. You also might like to look up the supply chains behind the food to help young people be more aware of how what they eat is made. It’s all part of opening up a conversation about the link between nutrition and mental health.

Encourage them to take ownership

Taking responsibility for your own life gives you a sense of fulfilment and control – not to mention the health benefits. One of the best ways to engage young people into the kitchen is to help them take ownership of the process. Get them to pick a recipe, figure out what ingredients they’ll need, and then go through the steps together.

While you’re cooking with kids, be patient – remember, they need to start somewhere. It’s tempting to just do it for them, but the best way to learn is by sometimes making mistakes. Compliment their efforts, and try not to be too critical.

You might even like to talk to your kids about them making dinner on a particular night of the week.

Help boys as well as girls

Young men need to know how to sustain themselves just as much as girls do.

Having different expectations for boys and girls in the kitchen isn’t just unfair on young women. It also robs young men of the joy and self-esteem that comes from cooking for themselves and for others. Anyone can create healthy food that tastes great.

Learning to cook

Encourage them to plan in advance

At first, planning your meals in advance might sound like hard work. But it’s actually a lot easier than having to think about something every time you’re hungry.

Sit down with your young person to work out their meals for the week. Cook in big pots and save portions for later, or think a few days down the track when you’re shopping. Curries, soups and stews are great for this. These habits are invaluable for young people when they move out of home.

Find out more about the connection between food and mental health. For advice on how to talk to a young person about nutrition, get in touch with your local headspace centre.