The prospect of learning vocabulary words related to nutrition might intimidate your child, but if you regularly involve him in food preparation he will naturally become comfortable and familiar with the words to describe what he is doing. Nutrition is a multifaceted topic with vocabulary covering everything from nutritional facts and meal preparation and planning to biological definitions of your digestive processes. But through hands-on experience combined with togetherness and vocabulary challenges, the vocabulary of good nutrition will soon be at his command.
Vocabulary On the Job
Good nutrition habits start at home from a young age. As you and your child grate, dice, chop, bake, fry and sauté, talk about what you are doing using the correct vocabulary for ingredients, utensils, food preparation and cooking techniques. Use words such as peeler, bread knife, grater, stir, whisk and blend. Ask him to measure out the ingredients to help him learn terms such as cups, teaspoons, tablespoons, quarts, pints, pounds and ounces. The more hands-on experience you give your child in the kitchen, the more exposure he has to food preparation and nutrition vocabulary.
Nutrition Facts Vocabulary
The nutrition label on packaged foods provides a source for teaching your child nutrition terms such as carbohydrates, protein, fats, cholesterol, fiber, iron and calcium. Have her look up the vitamins and minerals listed to find out what specific health benefits they provide to increase her nutrition vocabulary still further. Read the ingredients list together and discuss which ones provide the healthiest nutrition. For example, "100 percent whole wheat" contains more nutrition value than "enriched whole wheat." Go on a nutrition label scavenger hunt in your cupboards, competing to see who can find the most nutritious or least nutritious item based on different nutrient counts, such as most or least calories, highest fiber, least sodium or lowest cholesterol.
Meal Planning Vocabulary
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPlate or food pyramid diagrams helps you introduce your kids to words such as portion control, food groups and balanced nutrition. Give your child practice with practical use of nutrition vocabulary by letting him plan a meal or two taking into account that a balanced meal includes meats, beans or cheeses, fruits and vegetables and starches, such as breads, pasta, cereal, rice or other grains. Let him make a shopping list for his meal and have him do the shopping, reading labels as he goes to find the healthiest brand of each ingredient. Challenge him to pack his own lunch with a set calorie limit to encourage more vocabulary development as he reads, thinks and calculates what he can include and still meet the nutrition goal.
Biology and Health Vocabulary
The biology of the digestive system and healthy eating adds a dimension of purpose to why you are teaching your child about good nutrition. She might associate the word "diet" with weight loss or being deprived of her treats. But as you learn about nutrition vocabulary together, you can explain that "diet" can simply describe a person's customary eating habits, whether healthy or unhealthy. You can discuss the many types of eating plans that people try, not only for weight loss but also sometimes simply to maintain a healthy life and avoid health complications. You might also want to teach your child the biological facts of the digestive system, naming the parts, such as the mouth, saliva, esophagus, stomach, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, large and small intestine, appendix and rectum, and identifying how good nutrition keeps them all running smoothly for a healthier you.