Published on March 14, 2024

Celebrate National Nutrition Month With Your Kids

Sara Renschler

By Sarah Renschler, RDN, LD, CDCES for Mind & Body

Every March, we celebrate National Nutrition Month with a different theme to learn about various ways to eat more healthfully. This year's theme, Beyond the Table, challenges us to think more about how our food is grown and prepared. This theme allows us to teach children about where our food comes from and include them in the preparation process. Let's explore ways we can get kids involved to start creating healthy habits to last them a lifetime.

With spring right around the corner, now is the perfect time to think about starting a garden. Gardening is a great way to teach kids about fruits and vegetables. Let them pick which fruits and vegetables they want to grow and teach them how to plant and care for the produce. This can instill a sense of responsibility while teaching them where fruits and vegetables come from and how they are grown. It is also a perfect opportunity to introduce them to new foods or create more interest around them for those picky with produce. 

Another way to involve kids and teach them about food is to take them grocery shopping and give them age-appropriate tasks while cooking. Grocery shopping can show kids all of the many different options that are available to eat. It may even spark curiosity in foods they haven't liked or have never tried. Teaching kids cooking skills can increase interest and excitement around healthy foods and help them build math, science, literacy, and fine motor skills. Here are some age-appropriate tasks your little one can help with while you supervise:

2- to 3-year-olds

  • Measuring ingredients
  • Helping with a salad spinner
  • Garnishing dishes with chopped herbs, grated cheese, etc.
  • Squeezing citrus with a citrus press
  • Kneading dough
  • Sprinkling salt
  • Brushing milk or melted butter onto baked goods
  • Spreading pizza sauce
  • Decorating cookies
  • Using cookie cutters to cut out dough

4- to 5-year-olds

  • Picking herbs
  • Washing produce
  • Whisking eggs
  • Stirring together dry and wet ingredients
  • Stirring and mashing
  • Greasing pans for baking
  • Filling muffin trays and cake pans with batter
  • Rolling dough
  • Helping with clean-up

6- to 7-year-olds

  • Mixing for baking
  • Cracking and separating eggs (be sure to wash hands after!)
  • Scooping and rolling cookie dough
  • Peeling fruits and vegetables
  • Grating cheese and citrus
  • Helping wash the dishes
  • Setting the table

8- to 9-year-olds

  • Meal planning
  • Helping with the shopping list
  • Making part of their school lunches
  • Starting to read through and follow a recipe
  • Using a can opener
  • Storing leftovers
  • Making a very simple dish on the stove — such as scrambled eggs

10- to 12-year-olds

  • Chopping with a knife (dependent on the parents' comfort level)
  • Simple sautéing on the stove
  • Baking in the oven
  • Boil pasta
  • Preparing omelets
  • Experimenting with their own recipe

Local farms or farmers' markets are also fun places for kids to explore the world of eating "Beyond the Table" and learn about where their meals come from. Teaching kids how food is grown and prepared is beneficial in many ways. It can inspire healthy eating habits, create a healthy relationship with food, develop fine motor skills, and increase quality time spent with parents or grandparents. Now is the time to decrease screen time, increase green time, and go "Beyond the Table."

Sarah Renschler, RDN, LD, CDCES, is a dietitian and diabetes educator at Owensboro Health Healthpark.

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital; Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center; the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 350 providers at more than 30 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a weight management program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have more than 19,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 33,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 150 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 90,000 Emergency Department visits and more than 1.25 million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.