6 ways to Encourage Your Children to Eat More Fruit and Veg
If you find it hard to get your kids eating anything but chicken nuggets, ketchup and plain pasta, you may be wondering how to encourage them to eat a healthier and varied diet. Youngsters are notoriously fussy - especially when it comes to consuming fruit and veg - but there are certain things you can do to up their vitamin and mineral intake, so check out the following five tips.
1. Grow your own produce
These days, it's all too easy to walk into a supermarket and pick both locally sourced and exotic products off the shelves. While this is convenient, it teaches children very little about where their food comes from, so why not make things more interesting by growing seeds from scratch or buying fruit trees, from the likes of ashridge nurseries, and nurturing them yourself? Kids will love watering, pruning and picking the produce once it's ripe and should hopefully feel more inclined to eat what they've grown in their own back garden. By growing at home and getting them involved in gardening you're also able to spend more quality time together as a family and can encourage your children to spend some more time outside.
2. Make food fun
Shouting at your kids to finish their broccoli will not make them do so. In fact, it could make them gag or give them a lifelong complex about eating their greens, so it's important to try a subtler and psychologically clever approach.
Firstly, make meal times as relaxed as possible, if children feel comfortable they are more likely to sit down for longer periods of time and nibble at what's in front of them. Secondly, make food fun by using role play to help them eat. If your son is a dinosaur fanatic, for instance, tell him that eating three carrots will give him the speed he needs to combat a T-Rex in battle or that finishing his cauliflower will help him grow big and strong like a Stegosaurus.
3. Think about presentation
When it comes to making food fun, you should also think about the presentation of your children's dinners. If they see a bunch of cucumber and sandwiches shoved on a plate they might eat the bread and leave the rest. But if you make the sandwiches into rectangles and turn the cucumbers into circles so the whole creation looks like a car, you may just find that they eat the lot.
You could even decorate the vehicle with carrot exhaust pipes and steering wheels for a more artistic and child-friendly touch. Similarly, if you want your children to eat fruit, try making a big sun from oranges or flowers by putting out strawberries, apples, grapes to encourage them to eat.
4. Get the kids to cook
Sometimes, children refuse to eat because they feel intimidated by what's on the plate. One way around this is to cook with your little ones on a regular basis, giving them snippets of information about each ingredient and allowing them to try bits and pieces in their raw and cooked form.
There are many healthy child-friendly recipes you can create together, so why not go shopping for miniature aprons and get to work in the kitchen? You could even cook for a friend or relative and give your little ones the pride of putting on their own dinner party.
5. Give little ones an element of choice
Children become surprisingly independent from a young age and tend to know what they like and don't like relatively quickly. Their taste buds can also change, however, and they may also learn to trick you by saying they don't like anything healthy when they really don't mind it (they'd just prefer something else) - so give them an element of choice.
Say something like: "Tonight we are having macaroni and cheese, would you like broccoli or carrots on the side?" Of course, you don't want to make your children food divas, but by giving them little choices here and there you'll help them to feel more independent.
You could also ask your Children if there are any vegetables they may want to try or have for dinner, by letting them suggest some different vegetables they may be more willing to try some new ones and also makes them feel more involved with dinner time.
Getting kids to eat more fruit or veg when they are notoriously fussy is no easy task, but with a little innovation and patience it can be done.
6. Growing Herbs
Get your Children to grow herbs at home, growing Watercress and other herbs can be turned into challenges, which can make your Children more interested in what they eat. They can also compete against each other to see who can grow and create the most herbs!