Monday 19 November, 2018

6 ways to get your child to love fruits and vegetables

By Meisha-Gay Mattis

Children just don't like vegetable! Or so we’re led to believe. But here’s a lightbulb moment for all you parents out there: eating habits are learnt. Meaning your little munchkins can be taught to love their veggies.

The easiest and best way to do this is to model it for them, so if you want to raise children who love fruits and veggies, it means you have to eat them, too. Parents are the first and most important role models for their children, so if your child never sees you even touch a piece of broccoli, how do you expect him or her to eat it? Be an example. As adults, we ourselves often perceive vegetables to be unsavory, bland and boring—usually stemming from our own childhoods, and children can pick up on that.

It cannot be stressed enough how important fruits and vegetables are to our health. But how do you get your little picky eater to fall in love with them? Here are a few simple strategies to try:

 

1. Make the introduction early

Taste is acquired. If you make the introduction to fruits and particularly vegetables early, there’s a high probability that your child will develop the taste for them. A big mistake most parents often make is introducing processed foods and sugars first. My cousin has a set of twins and she was urged to introduce them to vegetables very early, even before fruits. Now at age seven, they refuse to have dinner if there are no vegetables on the plate. One loves carrots and tomatoes, and the other loves cucumbers and lettuce. Not all children are the same, but an early introduction is a good bet and sets the stage and habit for healthy eating.

 

2. Disguise them

‘Dress up’ your vegetables by adding them to pasta, stir-fry and other dishes. Sometimes it’s not that children won't eat vegetables, but preparation and presentation could be what makes the difference. Pairing them with other foods may offset the taste. Creativity will be key here.

 

3. Make treats

Children love snacks and treats, and fruits and vegetables can make great treats in the form of smoothies, popsicles, sauces, dips and dressings. This is also another clever way to disguise them.

 

4. Let them participate

Not only are they building a level of independence and empowerment, but the engagement might just encourage them to take it a step further and want to eat what they have helped to prepare. Start with a few veggies more easier on the palate like cucumbers and carrots before adding others like broccoli. They can help to wash them, or arrange them on the plate, or let them choose which one they want to try for a particular meal.

 

5. Make them fun

Play with a variety of fruits and vegetables in varying colours; cut them into fun shapes and sizes with cookie cutters. Play the rainbow game—‘How many different colours can you eat in a day or week?’

Dress up sandwiches with faces & shapes made from vegetables and fruit.

 

6. Make them accessible

It’s not that you are forcing them, but sometimes, when you find anything constantly in your face, you just might yield to the temptation and give it a try. Have fresh fruits and vegetables accessible on the spot with dips, especially when they are at home with friend during playtime:

- Store chopped fruits for snacking in Ziplock bags in the refrigerator.

- Have small servings of vegetables with every meal and make a rule that they have to have a bite of everything on their plate even if they don't consume it entirely. 

 

Contributed by Meisha-Gay Mattis, founder of Bodhi, a Kingston-based holistic wellness company. She is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Personal Fitness Trainer. Email meisha@ourbodhi.com for more information or visit any of the following 

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