Trying to get our littles ones to eat their 5 fruits and vegetables a day can often feel like an impossible task. Many children don’t enjoy trying new foods, and with the huge variety of fruit and vegetables out there, it can be overwhelming for them to try the endless options of these healthy goodies.
We’ve tried bribery and just waiting it out until they take a bite, but at the end of the day, these methods aren’t ideal to encourage your little ones to eat their fruits and veggies. Since we know this struggle all too well, we’ve decided to share our top 10 tried and tested ways to get your children to not only eat their necessary daily intake of fruits and vegetables, but enjoy them too.
Check them out below:
Little ones looooove eating sweet treats, so why not opt for a low sugar jam or even make one at home yourself! Spread some strawberry jam on some yummy toast at breakfast or eat some blackcurrant jam on tasty scones after dinner. You can try this recipe here, it’s one of our favourites!
Children often don’t like the look of plain and boring food so if they’re served with a plain apple or some broccoli on their plate, they probably won’t be interested or excited to try it. Instead, cut the fruit or vegetable into a fun shape or use other healthy foods to create faces or animals on their plate. Try some sliced pear with raisin eyes, or carrot heads with curly cauliflower hair!
Make their favourite foods
A lot of little ones fall into the routine of eating foods they like and not wanting to expand their taste buds. If they’re a fan of pasta and meatballs, finely chop carrots or blend onions to mix in with the sauce (or the meatballs if you’re making them from scratch) to conceal the vegetables if they’re really not willing to try the new food. Whenever you make their favourite meal or snack, make the fruit or vegetables a little bit more obvious until they don’t notice they’re eating them because they just become part of their favourite dinner!
We find encouraging little ones to try a new drink is a lot easier than trying new foods- probably because of the texture and the look of it. Let’s be honest, a pink smoothie looks a lot more fun than a bowlful of fruit or veggies more often than not. Plus, smoothies are the perfect opportunity to pack in loadsssss of fruit and veg that they otherwise wouldn’t eat in their original form. Even if your child is good at eating their fruit and vegetables, smoothies allow you to add foods they wouldn’t normally like such as kale or apples with the skin on, so they get more of their essential vitamins and minerals in a fuss-free way. Try this smoothie recipe if you fancy giving it a go!
This may sound more difficult than it actually is to incorporate into your everyday life. Using themed foods can help encourage your child to eat what's in front of them because it appeals to their interests. You could host a ‘red day’ where your tot gets to try different red fruits and vegetables throughout the day- red apple with breakfast, tomatoes in their sandwich at lunch, red bell pepper or beetroot at dinner and rhubarb with dessert. Have a French day where they eat grapes, lemons, aubergine and olives! Or base the day on their favourite cartoons, eat bananas like Minions or carrots like Bugs Bunny and spinach like Popeye.
Much like smoothies, soup can incorporate plenty of vegetables that your little one won’t eat ordinarily. Whether you're buying soup tinned, in a packet, or making it at home, this warming meal can be packed full of healthy veggies. Texture is an issue for a lot of little ones when they try new foods, so making sure the soup is smooth is also super helpful. Try our vegetable soup recipe here.
Get them involved
We all know children love to get involved in what we’re doing, most of the time when we’re busy trying to get housework done or are watching our favourite show! With this in mind, why not get your little ones involved when you’re preparing breakfast or cooking dinner. Show them the different fruit and vegetables they will be eating before you put the plate in front of them. Let them play with the fruit and veggies a little bit and make it fun!
Easy & often
Instead of trying to fill up their dinner plate with lots of vegetables and overwhelming them with new textures and colours, incorporate fruit and/ or vegetables with every meal. Even if they’re not willing to try a new fruit or vegetable at every meal, always offer them and eventually they should get so used to seeing them that they will give them a go.
Not everyone will agree with this, but sometimes we have to choose our battles and if that means hearing Peppa Pig or Marshall from Paw Patrol while our little ones are chomping down on some fruit and veggies, we’re going to do it. The art of distraction is a useful tool to let your little one get lost in their favourite show, that they don’t pay attention to what healthy goodness they're putting into their mouths.
Tell a story
Much like the idea of using themes at mealtime, the presentation of food has a big impact on whether your little one will eat it or not. Helping to make the foods interesting and come to life will be super encouraging for your little one because it adds a fun element to dinner, rather than them seeing eating vegetables as a ‘bad’ thing. Tell a magical story about the healthy food on their plate and watch them get excited about the fruit and veggies! ‘The knight had to climb over the mountain of mash potato, and run through the rocky pea forest to save the princess at the top of the courgette tower’...