How to encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are considered to be very important food groups in our daily menu. They contain essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Although we all agree that fruits and vegetables should be an essential part of our children's menu, many parents still struggle with the question, "How do I get my child to eat more of them?"
Some children are not willing to taste fruits and vegetables at all; others eat only a small variety of fruits or vegetables. There are also children who enjoy eating fruits and vegetables, but do not eat them regularly.
How can we encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables? ow can we combine them into their meals? Additionally, what are the most important rules for encouraging children to taste and eat more?
The 5 top tips to encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables:
1. Visibility- If the child can’t see the fruits or veggies, they do not exist to the child! Children can go to the refrigerator and take out a fruit or vegetable for themselves, but will not do so in most cases if the fruit or vegetable is not available and ready to be eaten immediately.
Also, it will not happen if the fruit or vegetables still packed in the shopping bag or stashed in the refrigerator draw. If you want your child to eat more fruits and vegetables by himself, you need to place them in a convenient place in the refrigerator that the child can see whenever he opens the fridge.
2. Accessibility- If the fruits and/or vegetables are washed and sliced in a nice bowl, the greater are the chances that the child will take a bite—even if he didn’t plan to eat them before he opened the fridge or saw them in the kitchen.
Yes, a sliced fruit/vegetable plate can be a nice snack at the afternoon, as long as it is accessible to the child. If the fruits and vegetables are easily accessible to the child, the higher the chances that he will eat them.
3. Exposure to many senses- The child should see the fruit/vegetable, smell it and feel it with his fingers. The more senses he uses, the better. It will help the child to fear the fruits and vegetable less and will help grow his appetite.
4. Variety- Don’t serve the same things in the same cut and presentation all the time. Vary the fruits and vegetables in form and shape when you serve them.
Sometimes cut the cucumber as sticks and other times as circles. You can serve the fruit cut into strips/cubes, in a “fruit salad” or even as a “fruit skewers” (children love them!) The fruit can be combined into a yogurt and the vegetables can be used to dip into hummus, guacamole, cottage cheese and more. Yes, try to think “out of the box” and widen the ways you serve the fruits and vegetables to your child.
5. Personal example- Children learn from your actions! The child needs to see the parent eat fruits and vegetables as part of their meals in order to establish it as an eating habit. Always hearing parent’s statements about how it is important and healthy to eat fruits and vegetables, without seeing the parents actually eat them, may pass along an opposite message.
Make sure to combine vegetables in most of your family's meals, and offer fruit as part of a snack meal and as a healthy dessert. And, of course, eat the fruits and veggies yourself rather than just offering them.
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