We all know the NHS recommends we consume a minimum of 5 portions of fruit and veg a day to keep a healthy balanced diet, but when it comes to getting our children to do this, it can seem like quite a daunting task!
Many children would much rather pick up a packet of crisps than a carrot, or a biscuit over a banana, but we can try to make simple changes to make the healthier options sound more appealing for our fussy eaters (I promise it’s not as difficult as the prospect may appear!)
Children can see eating fruit and vegetables as a chore and aren’t aware of the nutrients their bodies gain from them and why they need them, and we don’t want to overcomplicate matters by scaring them with the long term effects that we might suffer from having a lack of these. So instead, I think a much more positive approach would be to make food fun again!
- Children are drawn to colours and shapes, so I suggest making meal times as appealing as possible. Instead of piling their plate high with steamed greens every night, how about making them a stir fry full of different coloured peppers, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms and courgettes. It would create much more of a colour explosion on their plate and you could encourage your child to explain the different textures they are tasting, e.g. is it crunchy or soft? You could even make it into a game where they have to guess which 5 vegetables you have used in that evening’s meal.
- Then moving onto fruit – children don’t always understand exactly how much makes up a portion. Try getting them to measure a portion of berries by letting them take their own handful rather than measuring out 80 grams – which is just as boring for you as it is for them! Or you could make a plate full of fruit into a smiley face: using 2 tangerines for the eyes, a pear for the nose, and a banana for a smiley mouth. It makes the fruit much more appealing and gets them wanting a fun snack instead of reaching for the biscuit tin!
- Or how about getting them involved in making smoothies? This is a great way of encouraging your child to help with preparation whilst also providing them with a large intake of the nutrients they need in a day… the bonus is that they’ll love the taste and variety of smoothies you can have! You could make a different tasting one every day – and even sneak in some vegetables that they won’t be able to taste once it is blended.
These are just a few suggestions on how we can get our children eating (and drinking) more of the good stuff that’s going to fuel them through a day full of activities.
Remember, fruit and vegetables don’t have to be boring! Let’s get our children enjoying the food nature supplied us with.