Getting kids into the kitchen

If we want to ensure that children have a healthy relationship with food, we need to do more than just cook them healthy and nutritious meals: we have to get them involved
Author: Anna Fuchs | Illustration: Friederike Schlenz | Photo: private | 2019/2

The best way of doing so is by collectively deciding what’s available and then preparing the food together. While doing so, we can talk about where our food comes from and what happens to it in the body. These good intentions can easily get sidelined in everyday life. It’s far more convenient to make decisions on your own. In all honesty, I sometimes enjoy peace and quiet in the kitchen. But it never normally lasts long, ending when the food’s been served and everyone’s grumbling because it isn’t what they wanted, at the latest.

So, how can we prevent this? In a good community, everyone’s needs are equally important. Everyone listens to one another and works together. So, in our family, we take note of what everyone wants and see what we can make using the contents of our cupboards. Then, we figure out what we have time for. What the children want is just as important as what I want and my need for healthy ingredients.

If my children suggest something that’s ‘tasty and unhealthy’, such as pizza, they now immediately add: ‘Yes, Mum, with lots of salad, sprouted seeds and fermented foods on the side.’ We can all live with that. When you enjoy something, it makes you happy! Food is really only healthy when it tastes good. If we have to eat something we don’t like, we end up stressed and stress is always unhealthy.

Little cooks

My children are two, five, and eight years old. They are all involved in the kitchen in whatever way they can and want. While this may sound somewhat chaotic, the more they participate, the more independent they become. They take on lots of tasks: chopping vegetables, mixing dough, spinning salad, watering sprouted seeds, or setting the table. My five-year-old also chops up the fruit for our breakfast every morning. This is a task he’s chosen himself: it not only allows him to snack, but also to shoulder responsibility. If someone else even thinks of chopping the fruit, he kicks up a fuss.

When we share the work and responsibility with the children, they enjoy the essential experience of being important. They feel connected and show what they’re capable of. And there are pleasant benefits too. My children, for example, love to peel potatoes, which I’m not really keen on at all. That way, we make a good team, because everyone takes on the tasks that suit them. And if you like doing something, you do it well.

Tales from our tummies

The better children understand what’s happening in their bodies, the more they can make a conscious decision about what’s good for them. Making up stories together in a playful way is the easiest way of teaching them something. In this game, food plays different roles. Sugar is the bad guy you must watch out for, because it pillages and plunders in our tummies. Sprouted seeds, on the other hand, are our kindly friends; fermented foods are the policemen who ensure law and order in the body. This turns every meal into a terrific tale. And, of course, it needs a happy ending, where the higher proportion of ‘friendly’ food ensures a healthy balance in the gut.

Our favourite way of eating is by choosing a base of wholegrain rice, quinoa, lentil pasta, potatoes, or something similar. And to garnish these bases, we put all kinds of healthy tasty treats on the table, just like at a buffet: raw oils, hemp seeds, yeast flakes, tahini, fresh salad, sprouted seeds, and raw and fermented vegetables. That means everyone can independently create their own plate that tells a special story. If we do this successfully, we not only teach children how to have a positive relationship with food: we also educate them on where it comes from and why it’s so important to our health. What makes this approach even more valuable is that it also allows us to spend plenty of quality time together as a family.


Anna Fuchs

is the woman behind the ‘Blattgold’ food blog. She shares her experience and knowledge as part of cooking courses and provides people with individual support on their path to a healthy, sugar-free life.

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