Give a Kid a Fish, Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Kid to Fish, Feed Him for Life

by Robin on March 10, 2010

in children's health, fitness and nutrition


For the 2nd year in a row, registered dietitians Renata Mangrum, MPH, RD and Monika Woolsey, MS, RD have once again created the Registered Dietitian Day Blogfest. Below, you’ll find links to my colleagues blogs who are participating in this unique and creative endeavor.

Renata and Monika have posed a question to those of us participating in this year’s Blogfest:

If you could give only one message, what would that be?

“Give a kid a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a kid to cook a fish, feed a kid for life.” Get yourself and your kids back in the kitchen!

Somewhere down the road, we forgot to teach our kids how to cook. Instead, we turned to boxed, bagged, canned and fake foods, the microwave, drive thrus, take out and highly processed foods to feed our families. Life got to busy. We are over scheduled. We don’t know how to cook ourselves. And now, we have the highest rate of obesity in the world. We have children taking blood cholesterol lowering medications. We have more children with eating disorders and we higher rates of type 2 Diabetes in children than ever before. Certainly, there are other factors that contribute to this, but really, when it comes down to it, food is the number one culprit.

The great news is that we can begin to make changes to impact our lives and the lives of our children-TODAY!

  • Set a good example by cooking at home. Don’t know how? Ask someone to teach you, check out cookbooks at your local library, take a cooking class or just use the old trial and error method. You don’t need a gourmet meal on the table, just something healthy.
  • Get kids excited about cooking! Bring them to the grocery store, encourage buying new healthy products and look at recipes on the Internet or in cookbooks that you check out from the library. Ask your local librarian for the kids cooking section. Rachel Ray has a great kids cookbook available.
  • If you child has a real interest in cooking, purchase a subscription to a cooking magazine in their name or sign your child up for age appropriate cooking classes. As the Food Network and other cooking shows become more and more popular, there has been an increase in the number of young people who want to make a career in the culinary arts.
  • Allow your children to participate in the cooking process by giving them age appropriate duties in the kitchen. When I was a child, it was my job to make the salads for each member of our family of 6. This included washing, chopping, and remember what each person liked in their salad! I also had a job each night to either set the table, put away the condiments or leftovers, clear the dishes or do the dishes. With 4 kids, it was a pretty fair rotation.
  • Remember your attitude towards cooking and food has a direct impact on your child. If you loathe cooking and shopping or have had issues with food in the past, your kids WILL pick up on it. Try and put on a smile as you make this week’s shopping list. Or, have your child help you make the list by looking to see what items are needed.
  • Remember to chose words carefully such as “My tummy is full, so I’ll skip dessert tonight” instead of “Mommy is on a diet because she is too fat. No dessert for me!”. Words like these endanger our children of being fearful of food or having the connotation that food is either “good” or “bad”.

Other tips:

  • Purchase a kid friendly knife, cutting board and set of measuring spoons and cups. Encourage your child to use those when cooking. Having a sense of “their own” equipment provides self esteem.
  • Allow kids to prepare simple meals for your family. Burned, bland or inedible, swallow it gracefully and encourage and congratulate him on a job well done.
  • Just because you grew up eating the same 5 fruits and 5 veggies doesn’t mean your child has to do the same. Bring home new and different ingredients and consider creating kid friendly ethnic dishes.
  • Have a cooking class birthday party! The food they create will be the food for the party.

And finally….

  • Make it a rule that you sit down as a family each night around the table-tv off, cell phones off, texting off, x-box games off-and actually talk to each other. Growing up, it was expected that everyone be at their seats at 6pm sharp for dinner.

Creating opportunities for children to learn to cook and therefore make healthy choices are endless. It takes the work and the dedication of the parent or the caregiver to create the opportunities and follow through. You’ll be glad you did once you see that you child is self sufficient in the kitchen, can make healthy choices and has a good attitude towards food.

Check out these fantastic and informative blogs from other RD’s around the country!

Beyond Prenatals (Debra) – Vitamin D in Pregnancy and Beyond
Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RD – Can Dietitians Have Real I.M.P.A.C.T?
Sandra Meyerowitz, MPH, RD, LD – Changes Worth Making Take Time
Carrie Miller – What Nebraska Dietitians Are Saying
National Dairy Council- Nutrient-rich foods build a healthy diet
Janel Ovrut MS RD LDN – My Top Tips for Registered Dietitian Day!
Heather Pierce, MS, RD, CDE – Enjoy Food
Elizabeth Rahavi, RD – The Art of Nutrition Messaging
Shelley A. Rael, MS RD LD – Food Is LIFE, Nutrition is HEALTHY Life
Kerry Robinson, RD – A Food Safety Message with IMPACT
Marianne Smith-Edge, MS, RD – RDs are the Premiere Food and Health Communicators
Kris Sollid, RD – Unintended Consequences of Simple Messaging
Angie Tillman, RD, CDE, LDN- Take Time to Care for Yourself


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie March 10, 2010 at 10:57 am

What a great post!

And, I love the title!

Thanks for participating in the Blogfest and representing our profession well!

Reply

Beyond Prenatals March 10, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Great advice, I love your tips!

Reply

Shelley Rael March 11, 2010 at 12:15 am

Nice, Robin. I cook at home as you know and we ate together all the time. Now that my son is nearly 20 the eating together only happens a few times a week, but the healthy information is imprinted for good.

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Liz - Meal Makeover Mom March 11, 2010 at 9:15 am

What a terrific post. Just yesterday, I gave a lecture/cooking class to 300 7th graders and their parents. The kids made smoothies (no recipe .. just wholesome ingredients like fresh and frozen fruit, lowfat yogurt, 100% fruit juice, vanilla soy milk) and proved to themselves that they can make their own snack after school .. and it can indeed be healthy.
By keeping nutritious ingredients on hand, kids can do amazing things in the kitchen.

Reply

Naveen March 11, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Hello Robin
Very interesting perspective, one I think badly needed today! Your message is right on.
I am including your post in my weekly 5 for Fridays this week! Thanks for the insightful tips.

Reply

robinplotkin March 11, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Thanks for all of your comments everyone!

Shelley and Liz, I love your stories!
Angie and Beyond Prenatals, thanks for your support.

Naveen, I am honored to be included in your 5 for Fridays post. Is this on twitter or on your blog?

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Renata March 12, 2010 at 10:13 am

Hi Robin!
There are a lot of great tips here! I feel passionately about kids being in the kitchen too. In fact, I am teaching a class this afternoon. I'll be passing on this post to their parents.
On a related note, two of my kids aren't big fans of peanut butter, but getting them to spread it on themselves changed the complaining to requesting it.

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Amy S. March 15, 2010 at 10:45 am

So many good tips and info. for today's families. Thanks Robin for reminding us that we need to get our kids involved in the kitchen!

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