Build a sense of gratitude for abundant, healthful foods among children and the whole family with these top expert tips.
The month of November always makes me think about being thankful for a bountiful harvest, a pantry full of food, and the love of my friends and family as Thanksgiving draws near. Many of us never give a second thought about whether we will find enough food in our refrigerators each day to feed our children, or whether they might have to go to bed hungry one night because the dollars didn’t stretch far enough to purchase food that month. However, about 12% of American households report that they are food insecure—meaning that they lacked access to enough food for an active healthy life for all household members at some point during the year. We also often don’t think about how hard farm workers toil all year long to produce such delicious, healthful crops that nourish our families.
If you are struggling to provide enough healthful food to feed your family, you are not alone. One of my favorite charitable organizations—Feeding America—is there to help you. Please reach out to me and I will do everything I can to connect you to one of the many wonderful organizations working hard every day to solve the problem of food insecurity in our country. And if you have just a little bit extra to give this year, I encourage you to make a contribution.
In honor of this month of gratitude, I want to shine the light on just how special it is to have adequate healthy, plant-based foods to nourish our families and children. I asked some of my dietitian colleagues to share some of their favorite tips for helping instill gratitude among children and families for the delicious, healthful foods they are fortunate enough to receive every day. Check out this list of fabulous tips to share with your children and families this month.
Helping Kids Express Gratitude for Healthful Foods
1. Visit Your Neighborhood Food Pantry. “Since starting the little pantry in our neighborhood, my family visits it before Thanksgiving and adds canned pumpkin, green beans, and other non-perishables for those in need to use for their holiday,” says Lisa Andrews, RDN, Sound Bites Nutrition.
2. Teach Kids About Nutrition. “Teaching your kids about how amazing your body is can help them recognize the role food can play in your health. If you’re able to have a garden you can show them where food comes from and what a blessing food is. If not, take them blueberry, apple, or strawberry picking to let them see where their food is grown and the work that goes into getting it to your table. Volunteering at a food pantry or serving food to the homeless can help you recognize what a blessing it is to have food. Finally, if you a pray as a family, praying over your food to express genuine gratitude can be a great teaching opportunity,” says Zach Cordell RDN, Cordell Nutrition, Host of The Latter-day Saint Nutritionist podcast.
3. Express Thanks Before Meals. “Saying a blessing of thanks before the meal begins is how we show gratitude for the meal,” says Jean LaMantia, RD.
4. Discuss Where Food Comes From. “Before and during the meal, my family discusses where the food came from and how it got to our plates. We give thanks to the farmers who grew our veggies, the workers who get the food from the farms to the stores, and our jobs that allow us to buy food. We talk about how the animals are raised, where the fruits and veggies came from, and the time, energy, and love that went into preparing the meal,” says Kylee Pedrosa, MS, RDN.
5. Show Kids How to Appreciate Food. “I’ve had a vegetable garden for many years. Through this time, we’ve had some really good years and some really bad ones, due to weather, bugs, animals, etc. It not only has taught my kids where food comes from, but also how much hard work goes into farming and how lucky we are to have food on the table. We especially give thanks to the farmers, ranchers and all the people who make our food supply what it is,” says Diane Welland, MS, RD Food and Nutrition writer.
Here are a few of my recipes that are perfect for getting kids in the kitchen this month to learn more about loving healthy, delicious foods.
Learn more about teaching kids about healthy food here:
Top 5 Tips for Cooking with Kids
Live Chat: Plant-Based Eating for Kids with Alex Caspero and Whitney English
Grow Your Own Food Toolkit
Build Your Child’s Love for Veggies!
The Myriad Benefits of Community Gardens