A diet that’s full of natural wholefoods like fruit and vegetables is so important for growing minds and bodies. Introducing, and role modelling simple healthy foods, into your child’s diet as early and regularly as possible will ensure they come to regard it as a natural part of their day. Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants which promote good health and protect against disease, assist with healthy growth and development and strengthen the immune system to help fight illnesses.
The great thing about fruit and vegetables is their naturally interesting appearance. Coming in a range of bold colours, unusual shapes, varied textures and sweet flavours. They are widely accessible and have different stages for us to interact with them; growing them in the garden, picking them, selecting them from the supermarket, cooking them and of course, eating them.
Children will naturally be discerning between fruits and vegetables they prefer, and this may reflect their own intuitive needs and preferences (some are naturally more bitter and others sweeter). With the appeal and marketing of processed snacks marketed directly to children, a little help in the fun department can mean a little more ends up in our children’s tummies and a little less in the bin.
If you still find you are having trouble enticing your child towards vegetables, try presenting them in new ways. Even chopping vegetables in a different way can be enough to pique their interest. Try grated, diced, circles and sticks. It all counts.
You can take things up a notch by getting creative with the plating. A simple smiley face open sandwich can help lunch get eaten. Involving them in preparing the vegetables and building the design can help too. Depending on how much time you have, you can create quite elaborate and amusing animals out of fruit and vegetables.
Here’s some easy tips to making fruit and vegetables more interesting;
Invest in a simple mechanical slinky apple machine which cores and spirals apples. Kids love this and you can assist them to ‘slinky’ the apple themselves.
Try celery sticks with natural peanut butter (or cream cheese for school), and sultanas on top to resemble ants on a log!
Simple fruit or vegetable skewers are always a hit. They’re colourful, easy to eat and appetising. Make them using seasonal fruits or salad vegetables cut into bite size pieces, threaded onto bamboo skewers.
Get creative with a marker and draw your child’s favourite characters onto a banana.
Encourage your child to get involved with the veggie garden and choosing fruit and veg from the supermarket. Remind them of the different colours they need to eat – and to make their colourful plate faces!
Brought to you by Sarah Moore (RNutr, MPH).