As a parent, you want the best for your kids — their happiness and health are your number one priority. You know your family needs a good balance of food groups like healthy fats, protein, fruits, vegetables and grains to give you energy, improve brain function, build muscle, boost immunity and so on. However, despite your best intentions, life sometimes gets in the way. 
Single motherhood necessitates making the most of every minute of the day. Sometimes, nutrition education can fall by the wayside, but teaching your kids about food doesn’t have to be a big production. The most effective methods are often the simplest. 

Be a Role Model 

The best and easiest way to teach your family about nutrition is to model the behaviors you want to see in them. Your kids will be more convinced to eat broccoli when they see you try it first. Create well-balanced plates for yourself with appropriate portions for your age, and your kids will be more willing to follow suit. 

Make Food Together

Your kids are never too little to watch or help you in the kitchen. Babies and toddlers can sit in high chairs or play on the floor. They’ll be able to see you put effort into making a well-balanced meal. 
Young kids can start to help with simple tasks like adding ingredients and stirring. Talk to them about your food choices as you go. For example, “Now it’s time to add the carrots to help our eyes get super strong so we can see things far away.” Older kids can take more responsibility in the kitchen, helping you plan and make the meals. 
Bringing your family into the kitchen with you helps them learn about nutrition in a hands-on way and gives you more quality time together. 

Use Everyday Moments

Kids are notoriously picky eaters, adding a layer of frustration to family meal time, especially when you’ve worked so hard to buy and prepare nutritious food. However, a dinnertime power struggle isn’t the best time to educate about the importance of eating chicken with their noodles. Do your best in the moment, and save the lesson for a time when everyone has control of their temper. Otherwise, your kids are likely to reject anything you have to say.  

Stop at the Local Library

If your kids love to read or have books read to them, try out your local library for fun and educational books about nutrition. Every library will have a different selection, but you’re sure to find something your children will love and connect with. 

Get Them Involved at the Store

As a single mom, you likely don’t have the luxury of going to the grocery store by yourself, or anywhere else for that matter. Why not use these weekly or monthly trips as a learning opportunity? 
Teach your kids how to pick good produce and find healthy-looking meat. Stick to the perimeter of the store for the freshest foods and explain to them your decision to do so. Let your kids pick an ingredient and find a new recipe to try featuring their choice. 
These little moments won’t seem overly educational to them, but they’ll be effective, and you’ll also build happy memories together.  

Play Nutrition Games and Activities

A great way to reach your kids about any topic is to gamify it. People are naturally competitive, so your children will almost always choose a fun activity over something they deem boring. You can create your own, like a fruit and vegetable sorting game with produce from the store and a couple of baskets.
The internet is also full of learning opportunities with printables, interactive games and fun videos. Remember not all resources are created equal, so try them out before using them with your kids. You want to reinforce positive nutrition values, not bring on feelings of shame and guilt around food. 

Lean Into Food Neutrality

Traditional nutrition education is outdated and often produces feelings of guilt and shame. Rather than teaching your kids to label foods as good or bad, show them how all foods can fit into a healthy diet. 
Allowing all foods will teach your kids to trust their bodies, paying attention to fullness and hunger cues and determining what nutrition they need. Kids start their lives with this ability but quickly lose it in our food-obsessed culture. 
Keep your kids' favorite foods at home, whether chips or carrot sticks. Encourage everything in moderation since no food is good for you when you eat too much. Show your kids they can have their cake and eat it too, especially if they have a delicious chicken breast and green beans along with it. 

Make Healthy Eating a Habit 

Your kids will internalize what they see and do repeatedly. Good nutritional values won’t come from a few sit-down lessons about fruits and vegetables or choosing lean meats. Children learn how to make smart food choices by practicing consistently as they grow. Continue to model the behaviors you want to see, talk through your decisions out loud, make learning fun and use the seemingly small moments. 


Ava Roman