It’s certainly not uncommon for children to avoid eating fruit and veggies, often favouring unhealthy snacks such as crisps, chocolate and ice-cream. Fruit and vegetables are great sources of healthy vitamins and minerals, meaning they are an important part of any child’s diet. Here at Tutor Doctor, we know how difficult it can be to encourage kids to eat something they ‘don’t like.’ That’s why we’ve come up with 7 easy ways to encourage good eating habits and get your children enjoying their 5-a-day. Before you know it they might even be asking for a plate of carrots for dinner!
1.Get the kids cooking
There really is no better way to get your kids eating fruit and veggies than by getting them involved in the cooking. Start by asking them to wash and dry the fruit and vegetables and you could even explain exactly how you are going to cook them. As they will have been involved in the preparation and cooking process, they are much more likely to eat the final dish and perhaps even try something new.
2.Grow a fruit and vegetable patch
Kids are far more likely to eat their fruit and vegetables if they have been grown in their very own garden. Start by choosing some simple produce to grow such as tomatoes, carrots and strawberries. You can then get your children to plant the seeds, water them, help take out the weeds and dig them up when they are ready to be eaten. Getting your kids involved in growing their own fresh fruit and vegetables will not only make them feel more connected to it but it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll try produce they wouldn’t have usually. If you find that your kids are really enjoying growing their own, make sure you introduce new vegetables into your patch as well as keep on planting favourites.
3. Be Persistent
Many kids don’t always take to new foods and flavours straight away, and recent studies have even shown that it can take up to twenty times before a child can truly tell whether they like or dislike something. Make sure you are offering your child a small portion of fruit or vegetables on a regular basis. It is likely that after a while, they will become accustomed to seeing them on their plate and may feel like they are ready to take a bite. Even if you don’t think you’re getting anywhere, trust us- persistence is the key, so stick with it!
4.Set a good example
A really easy way to encourage your kids to eat fruit and veggies is to set a good example. Make sure that you are eating well and actively mention how much you enjoy your 5-a-day. If you are constantly on a diet or have erratic eating habits, your child may grow up to see this type of behavior as normal, which isn’t a healthy. Remember everything in moderation!
5.Allow treats and rewards
It’s important for your children to have balance when it comes to food. Allowing unhealthy foods occasionally not only keeps them from becoming forbidden (which usually ends up making them more appealing) but it also helps your children see them as a treat. Rewarding great eating habits with positive praise and the occasional treat is also a fantastic way to encourage children to eat fruit and vegetables. For example, if your child eats their 5-a-day, they are allowed to enjoy an ice-cream at the weekend.
6.Make it Fun
Kids love nothing more than fun and cool looking food. This means they are much more likely to eat fruit and veggies if they are positioned as a pattern on their plate, are chopped up into a funky shape or if they have a fun name. For example, why not call broccoli ‘dinosaur food’ or carrots ‘night vision sticks’? You could even use cookie cutters to turn things like apples or potatoes into stars or hearts. For more inspiration on how you can make food fun, head over to Pinterest- there’s load of ideas to choose from!
Positive encouragement really does go a long way! If your child has made an extra effort to try a new vegetable or eat a fruit they don’t like so much, make sure you recognise their effort and let them know they have done a good job. It’s also important to create a positive atmosphere around your dinner table and never nag at your kids to finish something. This can only make them resist more and you certainly don’t want to make eating fruit and vegetables a negative experience! Your positive attitude will certainly affect your child in a positive manner, so keep it up!