Persuading your children to eat more healthy green and orange foods: It can be the bane of daily parenting. It’s best for them to get five servings of produce each day, but if your child’s nickname is Picky Peter or Carb-Loving Carla, this can present quite the challenge! What are some ways to get your child to eat his or her fruits and veggies? Here are a few ideas to try.
Rely on Juice in Moderation
Kids under age 6 should drink no more than a half-cup of juice per day, while children who are 7 or older can drink one cup per day. The reason for the limit is that juice is relatively high in both calories and sugar, and it contains little fiber. That being said, including one serving of juice in your child’s daily fruit-and-veggie consumption makes sense if your little one is hesitant to fill up on other types of produce.
Choose those that are 100% juice. Be aware that “fruit drinks” and “fruit punch” may contain little to no juice. Also, since kids tend to eat fruit more willingly than veggies, consider finding a juice that your kids like that contains vegetables in addition to or instead of fruit.
Make It Easy on Them
If you make the fruits and veggies easy to access and easy to eat, your children might be more likely to grab them than a bag of potato chips. Buy bite-sized fruit such as grapes and berries, and keep them in a bowl in the fridge. (Don’t wash berries ahead of time, though.) You could also make a dip out of yogurt mixed with cream cheese and marshmallow fluff to literally sweeten the deal.
For vegetables, try making a plate of baby carrots, sliced up bell peppers, broccoli florets and grape tomatoes and leaving that in the fridge. Put some ranch dressing or a dip made from sour cream and an onion soup packet in a bowl in the refrigerator, and you’ll probably see little hands helping themselves!
Hide Fruits and Veggies
While it’s important to set a good example for your children by making fruits and vegetables fun to eat, some kids simply won’t eat them willingly. In this case, you might have no choice but to hide these healthy stowaways in their food. Tomatoes, carrots and red bell peppers will slip seamlessly into red sauce that goes over pasta. You can chop up onions and mushrooms to add to ground meat, such as that used in tacos, meatloaf and hamburgers. Cauliflower hides nicely in macaroni and cheese.
Children will usually eat fruit, but if yours won’t, try adding it to smoothies, yogurt or even as a topping for ice cream or pudding. You can also make it fun by making a smiley face with bananas and strawberries on a pancake or making a rainbow of fruit (red strawberries, orange oranges, yellow banana slices, green apples, blue blueberries and purple grapes) for them to bring to school.
By making fruits and vegetables more appealing, you can boost your child’s intake of important vitamins, minerals and fiber. If all else fails, hide healthy foods until your kids develop a taste for eating these tasty foods on their own!