Fruits and vegetables provide our bodies with many important vitamins, minerals, and health promoting nutrients such as fibre. Eating fruits and vegetables regularly is associated with improved health and a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as, some cancers, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. In addition, eating healthy during childhood tends to be predictive of eating behaviours in adulthood. Most of us know that eating fruits and vegetables is important to health, but it can be challenging to get children to eat their fruits and veggies (and let’s be honest…more so the veggies).
What can you do to get your child to eat more fruits and veggies?
Below are a few tips and tricks to help you encourage your child to fill half their plate and tummies with fruits and veggies:
- Get your child in the kitchen: getting children in the kitchen is a great way to involve them in meal prep, boost their confidence, and teach them healthy eating habits. Depending on your child’s age there are different tasks they could help with.
Some child friendly kitchen tasks:
- Tossing salads
- Tearing lettuce
- Mixing ingredients
- Washing fruits and vegetables
- Peel fruit (i.e., banana)
- Set the table
- Do it yourself meals: these meals essentially mean everyone can pick and choose parts of their meal. This tends to be a big hit with children, as they get to help prepare their meal but also make some decisions about what they are eating. The main idea behind do it yourself meals is choice and variety. This is a fun approach to meal time and a great way to get your child excited about eating (children tend to want to eat the meals they help create).
Some do it yourself meal ideas:
- Burrito Bowls
- Individual Pizzas
- Pasta salad
- Try fruit and veggie kebabs: this can be a fun way to get your children involved in meal prep and perhaps eating more fruit and veggies. Get creative: add cheese to your veggie kebabs if this is a food your child like
- Make a smoothie, popsicles or ‘nice’ cream using frozen bananas and other fruit: these are great ways to get your child eating more fruits and veggies. They also s or serve the kebabs with different dips as a way to encourage intake and make mealtime fun.make for the perfect summer snack.
- Slice it up: having freshly sliced fruit or veggies around the house is a great way to increase intake (even yours and the other adults in your home).
- Have your child pick out fruits and veggies they want to try: involve them in the meal planning process and take them grocery shopping. Ask them to pick out their fruit and/or vegetable choice for that week.
- Daily exposure: keep offering and be patient. It can be frustrating when your child doesn’t want to eat fruit or veggies, but just keep offering. Research suggests that repeated exposure is an important aspect to increasing fruit and veggie intake in children. In addition, it can take a child 10-15 times of trying before they decide to accept (aka like) that food.
- Add veggies to different foods like muffins, pasta sauces, brownies, smoothies etc.
I hope these tips and tricks provide you with some ideas to test out at home. Remember to be patient, keep offering, and most importantly have fun in the kitchen.
Cheers to happy and healthy eating!
Written by Angela Wallace, MSc, RD