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It is now the school holidays - do not panic!

For those with children the long expanse of school summer holidays looms so this week’s tasty blog is dedicated to entertaining them. And creating lifelong healthy eating habits.

Get them growing

In a review of 120 studies on children’s eating behaviours published earlier this year it was concluded that hands-on approaches such as gardening encourages greater vegetable consumption and may have a larger effect compared to nutrition education.

Fruit and vegetable growing is an ideal activity for children – it’s active, it’s mucky and it’s outdoors. Be it a small pot, a grow bag or a full size vegetable garden encouraging children to grow fruit and vegetable does encourage them to eat them. If the idea of growing your own seems too daunting then perhaps become part of a community garden. Community gardens are growing in popularity especially in urban areas. They tend to work on one of two principles either you are given a piece of land to grow your own crops – like an allotment or they are set up as one garden that people work on communally and in return can take home fruit and vegetables for free.

If this still doesn’t appeal how about ‘pick your own’ at a local farm? Not only is this a relatively cheap activity but will also encourage children to eat the produce that they have picked.

Get then choosing

A raining day activity! Pull out a pile of recipe books or spend an hour or so in the library looking through cookery books. Children are much more likely to be more adventurous in trying new meals if they have chosen them. They could even put together their own book from the recipes that they have chosen. Also get them to help write the shopping list. Set challenges such as everyone in the house having to choose 2 vegetables to go on the list. Or a new food that they have never tried.

Get them cooking

A study published last year entitled Family Food Preparation and Its Effects on Adolescent Dietary Quality and Eating Patterns used Linear regression to estimate differences in adolescent dietary quality and eating patterns between those who do and do not engage in meal preparation. It was found that adolescent involvement in food preparation for the family was significantly associated with several markers of better dietary quality and better eating patterns. There are many more studies that back these finding up; children that are involved in the cooking eat better.

If they need a bit of encouraging or upskilling how about sending them on a cookery course? Below is a link to a list of children’s cookery classes across the UK compiled by Delicious magazine but there will be lots more in your local area.

If you do get your children growing, choosing or cooking over summer we would love to see the pictures or hear your tales of how it went!

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