Getting Your Child To Eat More Fruits And Vegetables
As much as we try to get our kids to eat healthy, the allure and availability of junk food makes it hard. From the picky toddler years where every other food item is “yucky” ,to the teen years where they start making their own food choices in school (and usually not the best food choices), parents often struggle to keep their children eating decent meals. Here are some tips to get your child to eat more fruits and vegetables.
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Habits start from a young age, and what better time to get your kid started healthy than when you still have the final say in everything they eat? Avoid introducing junk food for as long as possible, and fruits and vegetables often so your child develops a taste for the good stuff. Once your baby starts on finger foods, try soft fruits or vegetables cut very small (about Cheerio-sized). Peas are perfect for this, no cutting needed! Bananas are also a baby-favorite. Harder fruits and vegetables can be steamed to soften them.
Make them fun
For a picky toddler, making fruits or vegetables fun can help increase their appeal. Peanut butter on apples, ants on a log (cream cheese on a celery stick with raisins on top) or fruits and veggies set on a plate to look like a smiley face, can all help your child look forward to tearing their fruits and vegetables.
Serve them often
Starting from a young age, serve fruits and veggies with every meal. Also, have cut fruits and vegetables readily available for snacks throughout the day. Cucumber and carrot sticks, sliced peppers, and peach and pear slices are all kid favorites. Have a rule that if your child wants a treat as a snack, they have to have a few fruit or vegetable slices first.
Be a good example
If you don’t eat your fruits and veggies, your kids won’t want to, either! Let your child see you eating all the fruits and vegetables you give him or her.
Which to include
Every day your child should have a serving of leafy green vegetables or a yellow vegetable. These provide vitamin A. Also aim for a serving of a vitamin C rich fruit or veggie such as broccoli, oranges, grapefruit, or tomatoes.
Talk about their benefits
With some kids, a good talk about what fruits and vegetables do for our bodies is just what they need for encouragement. Talk about why our bodies need each fruit or vegetable, and what vitamins are present in each.
Sneak them in
If all else fails and you have a particularly picky eater, try sneaking vegetables in where you can. There are many creative ideas online for hiding veggies in foods. Try out these recipes for zucchini noodles, meatloaf with mushrooms, macaroni and cheese with cauliflower purée, or veggie-filled tomato sauce. You can even hide some vegetables, like spinach, in a smoothie.
For more tips on getting your child to eat more fruits and vegetables, check out this article. And for more insight into kids’ health and safety, check out our blog.