Encouraging Kids to Develop Healthy Eating Habits with Olive Oil

Getting kids to develop healthy eating habits is a hot topic. First lady Michelle Obama and British chef Jamie Oliver have launched crusades to battle childhood obesity. So we made it a priority to attend a recent workshop devoted to developing good eating habits among children. We picked up up great information we want to share.

Good Eating Habits with Olive Oil
Photo by David Shankbone courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“What we want to create for kids are positive, repeated experiences with food,” Sanna Delmonico, a nutrition instructor at the Culinary Institute of America’s Napa campus, told the workshop. It  was held as part of the Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives conference co-sponsored by the CIA and the Osher Research Center at Harvard Medical School.

First, here’s what Delmonico said doesn’t work:

  • Pressuring kids to eat certain foods by forcing them or bribing them with something like the promise of dessert
  • Being a short-order cook and preparing different dishes for the kids versus what you’ll be eating

Delmonico said you can create “positive food experiences” through gardening, shopping, cooking, and family meals. Among her specific suggestions: “Always take kids to the farmers’ market. Never take kids to the supermarket.”

Moreover, let the kids pick out foods at the market to bring home. “They like to make decisions,” said our chef friend Joyce Goldstein, who teamed the workshop with Delmonico.

Here are six of their suggestions for encouraging healthy eating habits:

  1. Be a role model (we can’t expect children to eat better than we eat).
  2. Have family meals. “Kids who eat with their families definitely have better nutrition,” Delmonico said, adding that family meals also encourage language development and discourage eating disorders and teen substance abuse.
  3. Let children: grow their own fruits and vegetables; choose and shop for food; cook. That way, kids become “invested” in the food.
  4. Make vegetables taste good. (Our suggestion: Drizzle the veggies with a good extra virgin olive oil!)
  5. “Always (serve) something familiar with something new,” Joyce said.
  6. And don’t set too many dinner table rules for the kids. “Too many rules make a meal (just) another test in the day,” Joyce noted.

We’d love to hear your suggestions.

Bon appétit,

Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch