We all know that fruits and vegetables are a necessary part of our healthy eating habits so how do we, as parents and carers encourage our children to eat more of these in their diet?
According to the QLD Health 2020 Chief Health Officer report only 5% of children are eating enough vegetables each day and a huge 71% of children are not eating enough fruit each day.
It’s important to understand that there are many variables which can influence the development of our children enjoying a variety of fruits and vegetables. These can include pressure to eat, personality factors, parental practices or feeding styles and social influences just to name a few.
So, we’ve complied a list of tips to help with promoting the ready acceptance of your child consuming more fruits and vegetables each day.
The most common way of getting children to eat their fruits and vegetables is by hiding them in their food. They can be chopped up into tiny pieces and they won’t even know they are in there. For example, if you are cooking a sauce, you can pack it full of carrots, zucchini, celery etc.
Cut fruit and vegetables into shapes – although hiding food in your child’s meal is a great way to increase their fruit and vegetable intake, it is just as important that children see the fruits and vegetables they are eating. Cutting fruits and vegetables into shapes or make a picture out of their food can encourage them to try ‘new foods’.
If you’ve been following us for some time you know how much we love bright and colourful foods. The benefits of eating different coloured fruits and vegetables means that your children will be exposed to a variety of different nutrients. Focusing on colour can be a fun way to encourage children to try new fruits and vegetables and a great way to start the conversation with your children about the benefits of eating coloured fresh foods and what that will do for their body. You can also create an ‘eat a rainbow’ colour chart (eat a rainbow colour chat) and have them track which fruits and vegetables they’ve eaten each day. If your children have siblings they could even have a healthy competition to see who eats the most colours in a week.
Ask your children to help in the kitchen with age appropriate activities. This will help them to learn to love different foods, expose them to more new foods and teaches them what a healthy meal looks like all of which will help form healthy eating habits as they grow older.
Educate children on where their food comes from by growing a veggie patch in your garden, growing fruit plants or even some small herb pots on your balcony. Have discussions with them about the seasonality of fruits and vegetables and how they are produced. You’ll be surprised at what your children might be happy to try in the garden.
Eat healthily and live an active lifestyle. Leading by example means that your children will be more likely to make healthy choices for themselves as they get older.
Don’t force them into eating food they don’t like. This won’t help the situation and may only make things worse. Instead, some positive ways to encourage them to try new foods could be by having communal bowls on the kitchen table at meals time filled with salads, vegetables etc. and allow them to choose the foods they would like to put on their plate. If it’s a new food they haven’t tried before put a small amount on their plate and get them used to it’s smell, the way it looks and feels.
We understand when ordering our meals, if children haven’t been exposed to some fruits and vegetables in our meal packs they may be less inclined to try them. However with the tips we have provided above we know that eventually children will begin to try the fruits and vegetables we provide and learn to love them.
Reach out if you have any tips that have worked for your children. We would love to share them with our followers also.