News & Features

Raising a Fit Foodie

January 31 2013 - 9:00 AM

With home economics phased out of schools and a growing obesity epidemic, it’s more important than ever to empower kids with life skills and experience to prevent unhealthy habits. So how do you raise a fit foodie?

As you prepare your list of New Year Resolutions, keep the entire family in mind, especially the kids. It’s much more effective to SHAPE healthy habits than BREAK unhealthy ones. Children from families who practice healthy habits together are more likely to grow into healthier adults.

Healthy habits start at home – and the earlier, the better. Here are six tips to get started.

1. Get the kids in the kitchen!

Preparing food together is an opportunity to spend quality time and cultivate family traditions, and giving kids even the smallest task when cooking a meal increases the likelihood that they will eat it. This is a great way to introduce new foods and dishes to finicky eaters. I recommend Vivi’s Cookbook for low-stress, kid-friendly recipes that always include an instruction designed to help you share a giggle.

2. Give your kids age-appropriate portions sizes and talk to them about moderation.

Offer a variety of healthy “anytime” and “every day” foods without depriving them of their favorite “sometimes” foods (follow the links for mercifully simple, kid-friendly exercise to talk to kids about what these terms mean). Avoid associating either term as good or bad because no food should be off limits in a child with a healthy relationship with food.

3. Introduce fruits and vegetables. 

Eating well gets a bad rap, but with a little creativity and a positive attitude, you’ll be surprised how kids react to fruits and veggies! According to a recent study published in the Journal Preventive Medicine, the technique of rebranding vegetables to elementary school kids using creative names increased consumption at lunch.

“Giving anything a name goes a long way for making somebody believe it will taste better,” said the lead author of the study, Brian Wansink, a professor of marketing and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University. Practically speaking, don’t ask your kids to try cauliflower, ask if they would like to try some “crunchy clouds!” This approach will entice kids and cultivate an interest to try “new” foods.

4. Get active!

When inclement weather keeps kids inside, prevent them from falling into a techno-electro-coma by encouraging activities that require movement. Put on some music and have a dance party or get creative and suggest they pretend to be a snake or march like a toy soldier across the house.

5. Stay hydrated without adding extra calories. 

We all know water is vital – aiding in digestion, building the immune system, maintaining body fluids, etc. But staying hydrated is easy to overlook. Avoid making juice or milk the go-to drink of choice. Offer a glass of water to re-energize after the dance party. Teach kids to enjoy water by adding a slice of fruit or serving it in a fancy glass with a silly straw.

6. Don’t forget to laugh. 

And last but not least, share a laugh with your kid every day. Laughing releases endorphins that reduce stress levels, increases feelings of self-worth, and creates positive associations with non-food sources of pleasure. This can decrease the chance kids will seek their pleasure from food sources. In addition to the health benefits, laughing together is great for your relationship.

It’s best not to tackle all of these goals at once, take on one at a time till you’ve established household habits that put your family on their way to a healthier & happier year. provides parents, teachers, and caregivers of children ages 3-8 with free interactive wellness education tools. The program helps children establish healthy relationships with food by teaching moderation and portion control while motivating and rewarding good choices. The unique program can be incorporated into home or school early education reading or P.E. curriculums without adding an additional subject to time crunched school schedules.

Jonelle Galuska is the founder and creator of Vivi LeDish children’s character and the companion website,  Her experience living in Europe, where the obesity rates are much lower than the United States despite abundant food supplies and a lack of “low fat” and “diet” products, inspired her to rethink the way we teach children healthy habits in the United States. This prompted her and her business partner to create a kitchen and wellness program for kids ages 3-8.