Hands up, who struggles with getting their kids to eat fruits and vegetables? Without being able to really see your hand up, I know it’s a large portion of the parent population.
Many of my clients come sit in my office asking how to get their child to eat fruit, veggies or both. While some kids gravitate one way or the other, that doesn’t mean you give up on either food group. The diversity of nutrients from various foods offer a plethora of antioxidants, phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins and components that haven’t been given a name yet.
Here are my top 5 ways to help fruits and vegetables get into your kid(s):
1. Lay the groundwork.
Does your child know why they need to eat fruits and vegetables? Often the missing link is that they really don’t know why they are important to consume every day. Teaching them about the different food groups is essential and the earlier the better. For instance; broccoli is high in calcium and so strengthens bones and teeth. Show a full body x-ray, from a book or online, of a child and adult. Explain how their bones will grow just like in the pictures and the good stuff that’s in broccoli (and many other leafy greens) is what makes them strong for faster running, better climbing, speedier skating and award-winning tumbling and gymnastics.
2. Take them to the market or supermarket with you.
I know it’s faster to get it done on your own, but make a date with your child to do some shopping without a particular time frame. Spend some time in the produce section looking at the colours, textures, shapes and sizes and how each fruit and veggie smells and feels. Base your exploration on your child’s age and for some, they can tell you the colours of the food, count how many oranges or pears are going into your cart, or ask what’s next on the shopping list.
3. Make a plan.
Meal planning makes your life easier! If your child is old enough to help with planning, have them suggest fruits or vegetables to include with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Make up a chart for the fridge or bulletin board. Have homemade or printed photos of fruits and vegetables on magnets or double-sided tape. Have a meal plan chart and ask your child to put the pictures where they want to eat that veggie or fruit. Be sure to include any they don’t like so much and talk about how these can be tried again. Tell them, sometimes foods tastes better than they remember and share any stories of foods that you once chose not to eat, but now love.
4. Get them in the kitchen prepping with you.
If you haven’t noticed, they love to copy what you do. When you spend time in the kitchen mixing and stirring, they want to do the same. I used to keep a chair in the kitchen that could be pulled up to the counter at almost every meal. My kids could see what was going on, and nibble away on what I was prepping. You may find your child will eat what’s on the chopping board more often than when it is served on their plate! Teach your child how to chop with a paring knife first with a soft veggie like mushrooms. Then make a big deal about how he chopped it as you serve dinner to the family. The more they contribute, the more likely they are to eat it.
5. Stop the vicious circle.
When kids are low in nutrients, their appetite can be low they don’t crave or have a taste for healthy foods. I’ve used both tissue salts of 12 different minerals and Juice Plus+ chewable or capsule fruit and veggie powder. A Children’s Heath study from Juice Plus+ has collected data that shows that there’s a 61% increase of kids eating more fruits and veggies, 60% were missing less days at school, 71% were drinking less water and consuming less fast food and soft drinks and 56% were taking less over the counter and prescription medicines. I’ve seen kids in my practice who, after three or four months of taking Juice Plus+ actually wanting to eat fruits and vegetables. Parents report they ask for them instead of sweets or junk food. The feedback I’ve had has been tremendous. Contact us to learn more about JuicePlus+.
It may seem like an endless uphill battle, getting your kids to try new foods and eat more of the good stuff, but it really is an investment of time and energy. While some days may be less than perfect, look for the little improvements and celebrate those!
Image Copyright: ximagination / 123RF Stock Photo