We all know that fruit and vegetables are good for us, but how many adults actually eat them regularly? Foods contain combinations of nutrients and other healthy substances. No single food can supply all nutrients in the amounts you need, and that is why you need a variety. Even more so than adults, children who are growing up, need that variety.
Being a class teacher, one can’t help but notice the foods that children consume on a daily basis. It is interesting how some children favour fruit and vegetables while others don’t even go near them. Wondering why this is the case and in search of the answer to it, I did some reading, talked to parents who seemed to have their children’s food choices under control and came up with the following 8 proven ways that will get your child eating more fruit and vegetables. Read on to find out what they are.
1.Set the example.
What all the parents I talked to had in common was that they ate fruit and vegetables themselves and their house had an abundance of these food choices. Kids favour bland and sweet tastes and will stick to the tastes they are familiar with. Being adventurous with food is something that usually comes later on in life, if as a young child, one has been exposed to different flavours. Usually children will follow their parents’ eating patterns, so make sure you practice what you preach, if you want your child to eat wisely.
2. Get them involved.
Actively involving children in the preparation of their food will get them more interested. Taking your children to the supermarket to pick out a few things to cook, will make them excited about dinner time. Cook a recipe together and if they are older have them cook something for themselves.
3. Enforce the “one bite rule”.
Research shows that children who have initially rejected a food must be exposed to it at least 8-10 times for the food to be accepted. After enough exposure, the food will be more familiar to the child and they will begin to rate it more favourably. Tastes are acquired and parents need to be consistent and persistent.
4. Create positive food experiences.
Fighting and punishments create bad feelings and the child will associate healthy eating as a negative experience. Be insistent but try not to start a fight. Research has shown that praising a child for trying one bite of a rejected food, will make it easier for them to try it again and more likely to rate the food positively in the future.
5. Eat the colours of the rainbow.
Working in your favour, is that children prefer colourful food. Expose them to more colours and variety by adding more vegetables to their plates. Get them to notice the colours and point out the goodness of each one, so that it stays in their mind as something good, that they should aim for, too.
6. Make food fun.
Cook different vegetables separately and place them around the plate in a pattern. Let your creativity run wild and create scenes or faces. Children love it when their food is designed into patterns on their plates because it instantly makes it more fun.
7. Educate your child.
Guide and empower your children, educating them about the food they eat and its benefits. Telling them to eat it because you say so, won’t hack it. Explain to them that broccoli helps them grow, that carrots help with their eyesight etc. This will make their own food choices more meaningful. In addition, it will help them stick to the right choices in the future.
8. Be persistent.
Some children will be more difficult than others to convince. What is important is that you show patience and persistence. Do not give up . Habits that develop at a young age will remain with them into adulthood and will help them shape their future selves. Your persistence will pay off.
Till next time…
Featured image downloaded from http://www.wholeparent.com and modified for this post. Visit this site for some food preparation ideas for your kids.