It is definitely hard to convince children to eat more fruits and vegetables. Young children are especially very hard to feed, and they choose to eat only foods that they are already familiar with. Since healthy eating habits should be started early, parents should keep on offering fruits and vegetables as part of a child’s meals. Here are some ways on how you can get more fruits and vegetables in your child’s diet:
1. Always serve fruits and vegetables at every meal. Try to add more vegetables to your dishes. Don’t easily give up if your kids don’t want any of it. Initially, they may stay away from food items they are not familiar with. But when they are given plenty of opportunities to try the new foods, they will eventually develop a liking for some vegetables or fruits.
2. Include your kids in food shopping and food preparation. Children want to have some autonomy, and it may help if you involve them in choosing fresh produce. Have your kids choose the vegetables and fruits they like, and allow them to help you out in the preparation.
3. Show your kids that you love eating fruits and vegetables too. When children see that you enjoy eating fruits and vegetables, they may also be enticed to eat it as well. If you don’t frequently serve fruits or vegetables and if your kids also see you not consuming as much as you should, your kids may also develop similar preferences.
4. Add vegetables to your child’s favorite foods. If your kids love pizza, then by all means make pizza at home and top it with plenty of vegetables. You can also make tacos or wraps, but make it healthier by adding fruits or vegetables.
5. Always have ready to eat fruits and vegetables in the fridge, or on your counter at home. Children are always on the go, and they may find eating fruits or vegetables inconvenient to eat. Cut up fruits and store it in small bags, or you may prepare a variety of ready to eat vegetables with low-fat dips, so that it can be convenient for snacking.
6. Make eating fruits fun. Make smoothies with fruits and low fat or non-fat yogurt for a refreshing snack. You may also add fruits to pancakes, waffles or cereal. Offer fruits as a dessert instead of ice cream. You may prepare a fruit salad, or you may add chopped fruit to jell-o. You may also make fruit bars, and popsicles out of fruit puree.
7. Encourage your kids to skip the soda and switch to 100% fruit juice. While fresh fruit contains fiber, a 4-6 oz of 100% fruit juice can provide two servings of fruit in children aged 1 to 6 years old. For older children, 8-12 ounces of fruit juice is equivalent to two servings of fruit.
8. You may puree steamed vegetables and add it to soups, casseroles, sauces and other dishes. Children can be very particular to new textures, colors and flavor. In order to get more vegetables in their diet, you can “hide” these in your home-made dishes. You may also use pureed vegetables as a thickening agent.
9. Make time for preparing school lunches. Packed lunches are healthier as compared to meals offered in school. Add vegetables to sandwiches or wraps but make sure that these meals can be eaten easily. Kids may not have that luxury of time to have long lunches.
Children may initially resist eating fruits and vegetables, but parents need to introduce these to kids early on. According to studies, children aged 2-4 years old were more likely to accept new foods, as compared to children aged four to eight years old. Although it may take some time before children can develop a liking for fruits and vegetables, the rewards in terms of their health, can be incomparable to the effort you exerted in preparing these healthy dishes.