Many parents wonder how they can convince their children to eat healthier and not just pick at those vegetables, moving them around the plate without ever putting a bite in their mouths. Turns out there’s a simple way to turn even the pickiest child into a vegetable lover. The big secret is gardening.
It Builds Responsibility – This may come as a surprise, but it really shouldn’t. Any time you involve your child in a process, they tend to love and respect the results more fully than if you excluded them. We instinctively know this as parents and apply it all the time, letting our children help build a tree house, letting them decide on a design concept for their own rooms, or involving them in family decisions. These decisions can be small, like choosing a restaurant for dinner, or big, like moving or having more children. So, if you want your children to love and respect proper nutrition, why not apply this same instinctual principle to the food we eat?
It’s Easy – Gardening doesn’t need to be difficult. If you are new to it, start with a few seeds in little pots on a window sill. You can find seed kits for just a dollar in many stores for herbs, small vegetables, and strawberries. That’s a great beginning. If you are feeling more adventurous, start with four or five large pots on your porch or balcony and plant herbs and tomatoes. Or go all out and plot out a piece of your backyard to get planting. Gardening centers are happy to guide you with what to plant, when, where, and any other concerns you may have during the journey. Don’t forget to involve your kids. Even if you have just a few herbs in the windowsill, if they’re included, they’ll be reminding you to use them. Children can help with planting, watering, hoeing, weeding, and watching out for pests. Any way they can help that makes them feel involved with the garden will lead to amazing benefits.
Healthier Children – Children who garden eat more fruits and vegetables than those who don’t. They take pride in what they’ve planted, watched grow, and helped cultivate, encouraging them to try the fruits of their labor, things that they would have looked upon with distrust and disgust otherwise. This doesn’t stop when all the fruits and vegetables have been harvested either. They will be more interested in the produce aisle at the grocery store. Children who garden also spend more time outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine. They get some good exercise helping plant, weed, and harvest too.
- Long Lasting Results – Children who garden also choose to eat more fruits and vegetables in future meals, are more likely to try new varieties, and learn valuable lessons that stick with them through adulthood. Gardening as a child naturally leads to happier, healthier adults. The work and play of gardening diminishes stress and anxiety. It reduces the risk of disease and boosts the immune system. Gardening creates a better understanding of nutrition. It develops self-worth, work ethic, and a well-developed sense of responsibility. Gardening also teaches respect for the planet and the vital plants that give us food and oxygen. These children go on to do better in school, testing higher than other children, especially in science.
5. It’s Fun – Probably the best part of gardening with children is how much fun this wholesome activity can be and how much it brings a family together around food-giving plants and the dinner table. Start a garden today and see where it take you and your family.