5 Reasons to Send Your Child to a Healthy Cooking Camp this Summer

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children in the country considered obese has more than tripled since the 1970s to one in every five today. When you consider the amount of processed and fast food kids are eating, combined with their lack of exercise, it’s easy to see the root of the problem. Many parents are turning to summer cooking camps to help give their kids a boost in learning about nutrition and how to cook healthy foods. One local doctor, Dr. Yum, is on a mission to help transform kids and their diets, one summer cooking camp at a time.

“Our summer cooking camps are designed to help give kids a great foundation in meal preparation and in eating healthy,” says Dr. Nimali Fernando, a Fredericksburg, Virginia-based pediatrician who founded The Doctor Yum Project. “The kids have a great time, learn about nutrition, and they gain some valuable skills along the way.”

The Doctor Yum Project offers healthy cooking camps all summer long for kids. Their cooking camps include those for preschoolers ages 3-6, and for elementary children ages 7-12. Classes for preschoolers focus on them making a healthy plant-based snack with the help of their parent, and they will also explore the teaching garden. Classes for ages 7-12 cover nutrition concepts like the importance of plant nutrients, and how to feed the “microbiome.” They also harvest and taste food from the onsite garden, and learn about cooking safety. During the first camp sessions this summer, celebrity chef Joy Crump, from the show “Top Chef” and who is a local restaurateur will be a guest instructor on the first day of the camp. She will prepare one of her favorite recipes with the campers, and talk about her experience being a chef.

Summer cooking camps are a great way for kids to spend some time off of school. Here are 5 reasons to send your child to a summer cooking camp that stresses healthy eating:

  • Lifelong skills. Learning how to cook is a lifelong skill and one that all kids can begin to practice early in life. Being able to learn how to cook and develop age-appropriate kitchen skills will go a long way toward expanding their interest in cooking and in helping them to be self sufficient.
  • Healthy eating. Spending time in a cooking camp that focuses on healthy eating will help kids learn more about nutritious foods. They will learn more about what healthy foods are, what they do for their body, and how to prepare them.
  • Kitchen safety. Being able to learn how to properly use a knife, stove, and other kitchen gadgets with adult supervision helps kids to stay safe when cooking or when spending time in the kitchen while their parents are cooking.
  • Trying new foods. Many kids today eat the same few foods over and over. A healthy cooking camp will help to expand their palate and get them to try a variety of foods. Most kids want to eat the foods that they help prepare, which introduces them to new flavors and textures.
  • Reinforce lessons. When you add it together, the National Institutes of Health estimates that kids may be spending as much as 5-7 hours per day looking at screens (i.e., television, phones, video games, etc.), with the average child spending at least three hours per day getting screen time. In a cooking camp kids can get off the screens and reinforce lessons they learned in school. They may practice science concepts, math concepts and vocabulary when learning to cook.
“Many people want their kids to learn healthy eating and food preparation skills, but are not sure where to start,” added Heidi DiEugenio, director of the Doctor Yum Project. “Our summer cooking camps are the perfect introduction, where kids will learn, taste, and have fun and be creative with food!”

The first cooking camp session by the Doctor Yum Project starts on Monday, June 19, 2017 for the preschoolers, and Monday, June 26, 2017 for those ages 7-12. Camps are all held at Doctor Yum Project kitchen, located at 10482 Georgetown Dr. Suite B in Spotsylvania. To learn more about summer cooking camps by Doctor Yum or to get registered, log online at: doctoryum.org/kids-cooking-class/

Dr. Yum is also the creator of the Meal Maker Machine, an online site, found at http://doctoryum.org, that anyone can use at any time. The free site helps families create healthy recipes based off the foods they already have on hand.  During cooking camp at the Doctor Yum Project Kitchen, kids will break into teams for a “Meal Maker Contest,” putting all the skills they used to work to make a customized meal.

Dr. Fernando created The Doctor Yum Project, an organization with the mission of transforming the lives of families and communities by providing an understanding of the connection between food and overall health, as well as empowering them with the tools to live a healthy life. The project offers healthy cooking classes, child nutrition classes, cooking camps for kids, hands-on cooking instruction for families, first foods classes, a teaching garden, and online tools to help families make healthier meals. They also offer a preschool nutrition program, with 40 classrooms and almost 600 participating preschoolers

Dr. Fernando, otherwise known as Dr. Yum, is a board-certified pediatrician. She is also the co-author of the book “Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater: A Parent’s Handbook” (The Experiment, October 2015). To learn more, visit the site at: www.doctoryum.org.

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