The human body is utterly amazing. It has the ability to fight infection, ward off disease, heal and regenerate. To do this, it needs the right building blocks in the form of good nutrition. But just as it's not possible to build the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world – with sticks and mud, similarly your body cannot function effectively and maintain good physical and mental health when nutrient-poor food is consumed.
This is why 5+ A Day is so important to promoting a healthy lifestyle. We need fruit and vegetables to get the best out of our bodies for physical activity, sport, learning and all our daily activities. Not to mention our mental health.
Unfortunately so many processed foods taste really good, which makes it more challenging to get your kids to eat genuinely healthy foods. Many foods and beverages contain flavours that make the product taste great; however, all the goodness – including fibre, vitamins, minerals and nutrients – have been stripped away. These products are quite often products that are perceived as being healthy, for example: herbal teas, ginger beers, juices, baked goods, snacks and more.
Living a healthy lifestyle and eating a healthy diet starts from a young age. So it is important as a parent to make sure you encourage your children to live a healthy lifestyle from a young age.
How To Encourage Your Fussy Children to Eat More Fruit and Vegetables
- Eat lots of fruit and vegetables yourself. Children will model your eating habits on what they see you eat. This is a win win because you should be eating lots of fruit and vegetables anyway!
- Do not feed your children junk food like ice cream and sweets. Once they have a taste for it they will not want to eat anything else. Your children need to develop a taste for healthy food from a young age.
- Feed your children the healthiest food first, when they are the hungriest. This will increase their chances of eating it.
- Use foods they like as vehicles for fruit and vegetables. Puree and grate fruit and vegetables into soups, stews, casseroles and baked items. Carrots, capsicum, tomatoes, zucchini and watercress are all great options. They add flavour and nutrients, and your kids will never know.
- Avoid buying high-calorie foods such as chips, cookies and candy. Your child may not ask for these treats if they are not in sight and will be more likely to eat fruit and vegetables.
- When shopping for food select plenty of fruit and vegetables. Canned and frozen options are nutritious and economical choices.
- Try dipping. Children love to dip, because it is fun! Let them dip apples in peanut butter, carrots in low-fat salad dressing or peppers in hummus.
- Use fruits and vegetables as "anytime" snacks.
- Keep trying. For some foods, it may take multiple times before a child acquires a taste for it.
- Let children choose which fruit and vegetables to serve and how to incorporate them into their favourite meals. Get your kids involved with the shopping and preparation.
- Breakfast is an important meal of the day. Try adding sliced banana, grated apples or pear to porridge or cereal. Peaches, berries and kiwifruit add great variety when in season.
- Serve fruit and vegetables at every meal. You can add grated or cut vegetables into entrees, side dishes, pizzas and soups.
- Keep trying: For some foods, it may take multiple times before your child acquires a taste for it.
- Don't force children to eat things – this will create negative associations and discourage them trying again in the future.
- Don't reward your children with food.
- Try feeding different textures of fruit and vegetables to your child. Some children prefer smooth food, whereas other like lumpy, and some children like crisp foods, but others like soft.
- Offer new fruit and vegetables in combination with old favourites to show our child a variety of smells, textures and colours.
- Kids are turned off to trying new foods if the smell, flavour, or colour is not appealing to them. It may be more appealing to a child if fruit or vegetables are served raw.
- Raise your children's interest in fruit and vegetables by growing some in your garden (or in pots). Stawberries and carrots are favourites and are easy to grow.
- Use fun shapes and brightly coloured serving dishes.
- Be selective about packaged foods with veggies.
- Add Cress Valley Super Fruit and Vegetable Powder or Super Greens Powder to a smoothie. It is easy to prepare, super nutritious and your kids will love it.
Each child is different, so some of these tips may resonate with you more than others. Yet, some of these tips are universal for all children. Getting your children to eat their 5+ a day is super important for there growth and development and overall wellbeing.