We all start off with good intentions concerning our children’s eating. No sugary drinks, meals made from scratch and plenty of fruit and vegetables. But what do we do when it all seems to go wrong?
Gradually convincing children to drink water becomes an uphill struggle, we find ourselves sitting in the drive-through a little too often, and the fruit and veg that was gobbled up as purees when they were babies – well, that’s now the food of an evil monster!
How can you keep getting kids to eat lots of fruit and vegetables as they are growing up?
Vegetables vs. Children
Many of us may remember some sneaky tricks our parents tried on us when we were younger. Green mashed potato, beetroot cakes, courgette bread and pumpkin pie? Please!
If you can relate to any of the following tricks that children get up to, this article may be of use.
- Pushing any offending vegetable or fruit objects to the side of the plate, under other less important food items.
- Hiding uneaten vegetables under neatly placed knives and forks, hoping no one will notice.
- Spreading the finely chopped evil vegetable so widely around the plate, it will appear it has been eaten!
- An inconspicuous mouthful to a lingering pet.
- A building tantrum with screams of “I’m not eating that!”
Parents vs. Vegetables
Why? Why do we inflict this on ourselves?
Let’s look at the facts here. Government guidelines recommend we fill our children (and us) with as many as 10 different fruits and vegetables each day to prevent future health problems, such as heart disease, some cancers and potentially strokes.
Fruit and vegetables provide excellent sources of vitamins and minerals to help them grow and function at their best; they’re low in fat and also full of dietary fibre to maintain a healthy gut.
So there are many great reasons for us parents to do battle with the vegetables!
Fruit and Vegetable Tricks That Work!
We are in fact very fortunate today. Our parents didn’t possess the culinary fruit and vegetable weapons that we now have available to us. Say “hello” to:
- The High Speed Smoothie/Blender
- The Dehydrator
- The Spiralizer
The high-speed blender is a great way to serve up fruit and veg. Sneak beetroot into icy banana smoothies for a vitamin-packed “Pink Slushy” or hide pulverised celery in “Monster Slurp” juices for your intrigued children.
A dehydrator is a great gadget but not essential. You probably already have an oven – using it on the lowest setting is just as good. Fresh crisps made from vegetables? Wow!
The spiralizer is a great bit of kit. It doesn’t have to cost the earth but is worth getting. Spaghetti and noodles have never been so much colourful fun! Most of us are aware of the courgetti craze but why not play with carrots, squash or raw beetroot (warning, this last one can get messy)?
Fruit and Vegetable Tricks That DON’T Work
As adults, we try and react in a calm and sensible manner to table tantrums and refusals of food. However, when you’re tired, frustrated and irritable, it’s easy to be a little more explosive! So:
- Try not to get cross. Just take items away if they’re not eaten and avoid phrases like “eat up if you want a dessert”. Food should never be about rewards.
- If you expect your children to eat more fruit and vegetables, don’t leave them off your own plate – set a good example to follow.
- Don’t try to feed them dishes that look unappetising, it’s very much about how food looks when you’re a child. You could always try out some of these fantastic, tasty recipes?
The Best Solution
The best nutritional advice is to eat a whole variety of different coloured fruit and vegetables every day, so have some fun with the rainbow! Create some wonderful dishes, vibrant and full of interest.
The best tricks are:
- Keep experimenting and introducing different items
- Don’t get cross, and most importantly…
- Don’t give up – they’ll thank you in the long run!
You can expect a few battles around mealtimes as a young family grows up. Developing tastes in toddlers and children can be a challenge, but stay calm, be consistent and don’t worry it if it doesn’t always work out.
Play around with flavours, textures, aromas and colours and you’ll be feeding their imagination as well as their tummies. A happy, healthy table will give them the best start in life.