The best way to combat obesity? Head it off at the pass by teaching children early-on how to cook and enjoy healthy food that’s both nutritious and delicious.
“Cooking with kids teaches them to eat healthy food and helps them understand how to make it taste good too,” said nutritionist Jessica Levinson.
It’s that notion, along with the belief that people can cook interesting, tasty meals, that led Levinson to create her extremely popular blog Nutritioulicious. Nutritioulicious, a combination of the words nutritious and delicious, is chalk full of unique, creative recipes that make healthy eating fun for the entire family.
“It’s about doing it as a family – role modeling eating behaviors and getting active,” said Levinson.
Levinson said one of the best ways parents can be good role models is by taking time to cook with kids in the kitchen.
“When they’re involved in the cooking process, they’re more interested in eating what’s been prepared,” she said.
And it’s pretty simple. In her innovative cookbook We Can Cook, she shares how tips like letting your daughter cut peppers with a plastic knife or having your son help stir a sauce can introduce them to the joys of cooking early on.
Levinson also transfers that creativity to her blog. She takes unique, sometimes not-so-healthy recipes, and puts her own twist on them to make them healthier and taste better.
“There are ways to doctor up a recipe without making it unhealthy,” she said. “If you go step-by-step, it’s not as difficult.”
Levinson especially likes to provide meal ideas like Corn Basil Cakes and Sweetpotato Quesadillas, for example, based on what fruits and vegetables are in-season.
“I look at what’s fresh and put them together and then rack my brain for something I can make and share,” she said. “I love seeing people’s reaction when they realize that food that’s good for them can taste good too.”
And when she’s not whipping up savory new recipes, Levinson is a frequent guest on numerous TV networks, magazines and newspapers, and websites. She is a go-to expert for tips and information when it comes to combating obesity and nutrition.
“Being on camera is something I love doing,” said Levinson.
Levinson also loves articles and segments that stick with a certain theme because she feels that people pay attention to them more.
“When there was a fridge-and-pantry makeover series – it’s a great topic that can be repeated,” she said.
And although its important to keep as healthy food as possible in the kitchen, Levinson also believes everything is okay in moderation. She thinks that we need to take steps towards balance. During Halloween, for example, Levinson said to keep the candy tucked away on a top shelf somewhere.
“The key is enjoying it in moderation, and keeping it out of sight prevents you from overdoing it," said Levinson.
She also believes that we don’t have to stick to the status-quo during holidays – For example, handing out stickers or erasers instead of candy is one small thing that can also help combat the problem of childhood obesity.
“Childhood obesity is the greatest difficulty we’re facing,” she said. “Portion sizes are larger, more food is available, there is a lack of physical activity. Anything small you do can make a difference.”
Levinson is hopeful that we’re moving in a better direction, but still thinks that parents need to make sure their kids aren’t just sitting in front of the TV and get outside to play more.
“Get your kids excited about food too,” she said. “Don’t make it feel likes it’s a chore to eat healthy. Make it fun. Make it interactive.”
And along the way, make small changes to help your own health.
“People can’t go to extremes and expect to sustain those changes,” she said. “Make small, manageable goals and take it one day at a time.”
Author: Caitlin Hendee
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.