Nutrition Education for Kids: 3 Ways to Encourage Nutritious, Sustainable Eating Habits

Nutrition Education for Kids: 3 Ways to Encourage Nutritious, Sustainable Eating Habits

Sub Heading

Protect the future by helping your child develop a pro-planet, food-positive attitude.

Main Image

APRIL 24, 2023   4 MINUTE READ

Earth Month takes place every April, making this a great time to focus on your children's nutrition education as it relates to sustainability. While nutrition education for kids is important year-round, Earth Month presents the perfect opportunity to talk with them about how their food choices impact both their bodies and the planet.

Showing kids how to fuel their bodies with good nutrition while minimizing their carbon footprint can help create positive habits for years to come. Here are a few ways you can support a relationship with food that will sustain your child while helping to ensure a healthy food supply for future generations.

How to Foster a Positive Relationship With Food in Your Child

Food plays an important part in supporting overall health by providing the essential nutrients you need to thrive. At the same time, food can foster community, provide a source of enjoyment and reflect cultural values and traditions. Many children learn about these aspects of food and nutrition at school or during family discussions.

The connection between food and the health of the planet is a more recent conversation topic. If you want to teach your child how to support the environment while focusing on good nutrition, here are three ways to do just that.

1. Cook More Plant-based Meals

Data suggests that greenhouse gas emissions resulting from vegan and vegetarian lifestyles are around 50% and 35% lower, respectively, than most eating approaches that include meat. Reduced meat consumption is also associated with using fewer natural resources.

Eating lean meats such as lean beef, fish and chicken can provide important nutrients, including protein, vitamin B12 and choline. However, eating excessive amounts of these foods may not be the best choice for the environment.

To take a small step to support the Earth's well-being, try replacing one meat-centered meal a week with a plant-based protein such as lentils, chickpeas or tofu. A lentil-based Sloppy Joe is a kid-friendly favorite. If that doesn't hit the spot, try swapping half the meat with minced veggies, such as mushrooms. This way, they'll get the protein they need while learning firsthand that there are plenty of delicious plant-based foods.

2. Buy Foods in Season and Shop Locally When Possible

Choosing foods that don't require a long distance to transport can help reduce carbon emissions. Two ways to accomplish this are to shop for fresh, in-season produce and to shop locally.

Today, many fruits and vegetables are available year-round, regardless of whether your local climate is conducive to growing them. But the blueberries you see at your local store when it's not blueberry season where you live likely had to travel thousands of miles to become available to you. Likewise, if you live in Florida but insist on California oranges instead of a Florida-grown variety, enjoying that citrus contributes to the demand for foods that are transported across long distances.

Explain this concept to your child and demonstrate what it looks like to shop seasonally and locally.

3. Start a Garden to Grow Food at Home

Kids love a good DIY project, and there aren't many at-home activities as good for the environment and your health as starting a garden to grow your own food. Having homegrown fruits and veggies at your fingertips encourages a personal relationship with the foods you eat. Some evidence also shows that children tend to be more open to trying new foods if they play a hand in growing them themselves. After all, how could you not be curious about something you made with your own hands?

Encouraging Children to Eat for a Healthy Future

Learning how to make sustainable food choices early on can result in lifelong habits that help support a healthy body and planet. And while Earth Month is a great time to start incorporating your nutrition-focused goals, continuing these habits throughout the year is key to making a lasting impact.

Simple actions such as choosing seasonal produce or swapping animal-based proteins with plant-based choices can spark a conversation with your child about how the foods you eat and the planet's health are interconnected. Over time, these practices can result in positive attitudes and habits that your child will carry with them into adulthood.

What Does BMI Tell Me

Main Image

Alt text


In this series, our experts answer nutrition questions to help you nourish your best life at every age.*

Nutrition and Healthy Aging | Abbott Nutrition

Main Image

Alt text


"My grandmother lived until 98, and she swears it was from never eating a hot dog," said Dr. Donna-Marie Manasseh, chief of Breast Surgery at the Maimonides Cancer Center.

Thought leaders from the health care, academic and media worlds came together for a roundtable hosted by The Atlantic, and supported by Abbott, to discuss nutrition in the United States. Manasseh's quip was met with laughter, but it also spoke to the obstacles many Americans face regarding nutrition and aging. How are people expected to keep up with so much conflicting nutrition guidance?


Subscribe Policy

I understand and agree that the information I’ve provided will be used according to the terms of Abbott’s Privacy PolicyTerms and conditions apply.

Unless otherwise specified, all product and services names appearing in this Internet site are trademarks owned by or licensed to Abbott, its subsidiaries or affiliates. No use of any Abbott trademark, tradename, or trade dress in the site may be made without the prior written authorization of Abbott, except to identify the product or services of the company.