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It’s Back-to-School Season—Time to Start Cooking with Your Kids!

Now that your kids are heading back to school, your biggest opportunity to spend time together is likely around the dinner table, when your family is home for the evening. This is typically the time parents also take advantage of hearing about their kids’ days, and what they’re learning in school.

In addition to spending time together as a family, eating more meals at home is generally associated with a higher intake of healthy fruits, vegetables and dairy products that are recommended for a balanced diet, and usually with less fat and calories. But getting your kids involved in the process of making meals at home offers you and your growing child even more benefits.

With obesity and overweight rates amongst kids continuously on the rise, and also understanding parents’ constant juggling to ensure their children are living as healthy as possible, Susan Bowerman shares three advantages of letting your little ones help in the kitchen:

Develop an Appreciation for Healthy Foods

In addition to following their parents’ healthy food choices, being a part of the process will help kids appreciate the healthy foods they help to prepare. When kids are involved in the selection of ingredients, they’re also more likely to try their own creations, which in turn, may also allow them to be more open to trying new foods.

Boost Creativity and Self-Esteem

Does your child love to celebrate when he or she has done something “all by myself”? When kids are able to prepare something on their own and share it with others, it boosts their self-esteem. As they continue building their skills – such as learning to follow recipes – they may feel encouraged to get more and more creative, and may even start designing recipes of their own!

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Increase Coordination and Attention Span

Cooking involves following the steps in a recipe correctly in order to get to a tasty finished product, which allows kids to practice paying attention to detail and focusing on a task. Partaking in activities like stirring, mixing ingredients and rolling dough – or, for older children, chopping vegetables – is a great way to also enhance important motor skills like strength, control, and hand-eye coordination.

No matter how your kids respond to cooking in the kitchen, mealtime is always a wonderful opportunity for family bonding!

For more tips from Susan Bowerman, visit www.IAMHerbalifeNutrition.com.

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Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training, Herbalife Nutrition

Susan Bowerman is the director of nutrition training at Herbalife Nutrition , where she is responsible for the development of nutrition education and training materials, and is one of the primary authors of the Herbalife sponsored blog, Discover Good Nutrition. She is a registered dietitian, a board certified specialist in sports dietetics and a fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Susan graduated with distinction in biology from the University of Colorado, and received her master’s degree in Food Science and Nutrition from Colorado State University. She then completed her dietetic internship at the University of Kansas. Susan has taught extensively and developed educational programs targeted to individuals, groups and industry in her areas of expertise, including health promotion, weight management and sports nutrition. Prior to her role at Herbalife, she was the assistant director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, and has held appointments as adjunct professor in nutrition at Pepperdine University and as lecturer in nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Susan was a consultant to the (then) Los Angeles Raiders for six seasons, and was a contributing columnist for the Los Angeles Times Health Section for two years. She is a co-author of 23 research papers, 14 book chapters, and was a co-author of two books for the public: “What Color is Your Diet?” and “The L.A. Shape Diet” by Dr. David Heber, published by Harper Collins in 2001 and 2004, respectively.