Everyone talks about the importance of feeding your children fruits and vegetables; however, many parents find it difficult to convince their children to do so. We’re going to explain why fruits and veggies are healthy, and provide you with some helpful tips to get your kids to eat them.
Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also low in fat and calories, yet are very filling due to their high water content. Below is a brief explanation of the role of each of these in our bodies:
- Fiber: Adds bulk to stool and prevents your child from feeling constipated. It also reduces cholesterol and generally improves digestions of sugars and fats.
- Vitamins and Minerals: These are essential for your child’s development and are usually required in small doses.
- Antioxidants: These are usually found in naturally colorful foods such as grapes, and they play a role in preventing the development of chronic diseases, and some types of cancers.
Many children prefer to have a scoop of ice cream instead of an apple, or French fries instead of a side salad. Although this is very understandable, and even excusable at times, parents must play an active role in ensuring that their children receive at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Here are a few ideas as to how you can do this:
- Keep fruits & veggies visible. If children don’t see them, they won’t go looking for them! Place a bowl of clean and colorful fruit and veggies at the center of your dinning table. Also, try packing sliced cucumbers, carrots and celery sticks in clear bags at eye level in the fridge.
- Serve them at every meal. Add veggies to soups and entrees. Add fruits to cereals, or apple puree to pancakes. Repeated exposure to these will help establish healthy eating habits.
- Mix ‘n’ Match. Pair your child’s favorite dip, with a less favorite veggie. For example, ranch with cucumbers, salsa with carrots, and yoghurt with bell peppers.
- Get your kids involved. Take your kids to the supermarket with you once in a while. Allow them to touch, smell and choose different fruits and veggies. When you get home, get them to use their hands to tear up some lettuce for a salad, or count grapes for a fruit salad. The more familiar with these foods they become, the more likely they’ll be willing to consume them.
- Keep trying! You may not be successful from the first time. Don’t give up, and keep offering your children the fruit or veggie that they refused the first time. Eventually, your child will give it a try!
As a parent, it is always encouraged that you lead by example. For most children, only when they see you do it, will they believe that they should, too. Start implementing changes yourself and make it easier for your children to follow in your healthy footsteps.
This article offers general advice and may not be recommended for your child. Be sure to schedule your child for regular health checkups with a qualified health care professional.