How to get more fruit and vegetables into your children
All parents know the daily struggle of swapping processed foods and high-fat snacks like crisps, biscuits and sweets for fruit and vegetables – it can be a real chore and sometimes the one argument you are not willing to have after a long day!
We’ve got some great ideas on how to nudge your children in the right direction without actually making a big fuss! We all know the more you go on about something the less successful you are with a stubborn 8 year old!
Let’s start with the easy one…
Firstly, this one is slightly easier as the natural sugars that occur in fruit means that it is particularly palatable – yes it tastes nice! Therefore, what is the reason your child will not swap fruit out for chocolate? We’ve had a few ideas of our own and have come to the conclusion that it probably is sticky hands; effort to peel and those pesky pips!
Consequently, an easy way to add more fruit to your children’s diet, is to prepare it for them in a fun way!
For example, making smoothies together with a blob of their favourite natural yoghurt or the plain ice cube can be fun you can even hide the odd carrot in a smoothie!
Fruit muffins, whole-wheat of course, or home-made fruit pies low in sugar or pancakes and home-made fruit sorbets are all a good way of making fruit fun!
Prepare a large bowl of fruit salad and leave it on the kitchen table with spoons and desert bowls next to it so your children can help themselves.
This one is a little more tricky…
While getting more fruit into your children may be as easy as putting it in front of them ready prepared, vegetables, on the other hand, are a whole different matter.
Many young children start refusing to eat vegetables as toddlers. A large part of this behaviour is probably due to most vegetables being an acquired taste.
Eat as a family
Unlike fruit, most vegetables are consumed as part of a meal so it is really worth eating together as a family. Remember children are natural mimics so they will follow by example. Try putting a large serving bowl of different vegetables in the middle and encourage everyone to help themselves.
By allowing children to help prepare the meal like shelling peas or washing and peeling carrots and help cook the vegetables they get a sense of achievement and are more likely to try the different vegetables.
There is real magic in seeing a little seed turn into something that you can eat plus a sense of achievement that children (and adults) love. A sunny windowsill is all you need to start growing tomatoes for example.
Fruit and vegetables that look exciting and colourful are more likely to get eaten so get creative.
Simple things like carrots curls, which you can make by using a potato peeler to create long carrot strips, are much more interesting than carrot chunks. Stir-fried vegetables (with a spray of oil sautéed in a wok) are full of colour and variety and a great way to present vegetables in an interesting fashion for older children.
For your younger ones, making faces with fruit adding a blob of ice-cream or yoghurt for hair, always helps the fruit taste better!
Try, Try and Try again
Children Nutritionists say that you should always ensure every food type is tried 3 times before it is added to the ‘no’ pile. Children need to get familiar with certain tastes and many of these tastes are vegetables which are an acquired taste anyway.
Finally, if all else fails – you can always resort to old-fashioned “dessert bribery”…make dessert or treats conditional on eating up their vegetables. It may not be the most ethical of methods, but countless parents for generations swear it works!