I know many moms will agree with me how tough it is to ask their kids to eat fruits and vegetables. It’s always a struggle every mealtime. (If your child loves to eat them, you’re one lucky momma!) But for some reasons, I wonder why it’s so hard to feed them fruits and vegetables when they reach a certain age. Seeing these foods on the table, you can automatically see the disapproval on their cute little faces.
Is it with the kind of food? Is it with the way you feed them? Timing? I remember my husband is teasing me about the way I feed our kids versus his way. My tonsils are already out calling them to eat yet with my husband’s one playful call to them, with matching sounds (imitating the sounds of a train, a helicopter, an airplane, a roller coaster, whatever sound there is) they are already rushing to the table. Imagine every bite should have a playful sound and action! But these “whoosh’s” and “choo-choo’s” don’t always come in handy when we’re trying to give them fruits and veggies.
So what’s the reason why my kids don’t like to eat fruits and vegetables?
You may be a parent like me who tried all ways possible to feed your kids fruits and vegetables, yet for some reason, they just really find it unappealing. This condition is known as Food neophobia, the fear or skepticism towards unknown or new foods. This peaks between two to six years of age. If your kids are within this age range, they may refuse to eat some fruits or vegetables because of their strong taste. Children have more taste buds than adults and thus they find simpler and sweeter foods more palatable in comparison to vegetables or other pungent fruits.
We know how important fruits and vegetables are in our diet. They are critical to promoting good health and protection against disease, both now and in the future. They contain essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and disease-fighting phytochemicals that ensures our children’s healthy growth and development. The importance of healthy eating cannot be undermined; therefore it is very important that we include more and more fruits and vegetables in our children’s diet. In view of nutrition month, as a reminder to us parents to exhaust all possible ways to give proper nutrition to our kids, I’m sharing you some ways I researched to get our kids to eat vegetables and fruits. Here you go:
- Make the fruits and vegetables accessible. Keep fruit washed, cut up and in plain sight in the refrigerator.
- Serve salads more often.
- Try out vegetarian recipes for spaghetti, lasagna, chili, or other foods using vegetables instead of meat.
- The presentation is important; no matter what you give to your kid, it should be presented beautifully.
- Make more fruit-based desserts
- Try and include fruits and vegetables in all three meals.
- Be more innovative in making various recipes and thus add more fruits and vegetables.
- Take your kid vegetable shopping and let him pick his favorite vegetable and fruits.
- Limit or eliminate how much fruit juice you give your child and make sure it is 100% juice, not juice “drinks.”
- Avoid buying high-calorie foods such as chips, cookies, and candy bars. Your child may not ask for these treats if they are not in sight.
- Switch to healthy snacking and give your child a fruit instead.
- Make a small vegetable garden, kids would love to eat what they grow.
- Give an array of colors on your kid’s plate.
- Make fruit and vegetable eating a fun experience rather than buggery.
- Involve your kids in cooking various dishes.
- Freeze various fruits for some frozen smoothie or dessert fun.
- Appreciate your kid for his efforts, whenever he tries to eat some new fruit or vegetable.
- Lead by example; include more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Eat as a family whenever possible. Research shows that kids eat more vegetables and fruits and less fried foods and sugary drinks when they eat with the entire family.
One more thing I’ve learned as a parent these past six years is that we have to be creative in terms of how we serve them fruits and vegetables. My kids love it when they see playful colors and patterns so I try to incorporate it when I prepare their foods. I cut and shape fruits of different colors. Sometimes I also disguise veggies inside their meal by chopping veggies into really small pieces or mashing them so they won’t notice it’s in their meal yet still gets the benefit of it.
The Juicy Secret
Last weekend, we spent time at my in laws’ place. My mother in law, a healthy food advocate, bought different kinds of fruits and vegetables for the kids. I am like, “Wait mom, they don’t know what kind of fruit and veggies are that, and they may not eat them.” Of course, I didn’t say that aloud. Just in my mind. It seems like there would be one frustrated grandma on the dinner table later, I thought to myself.
As we went home with loads of these healthy, colorful, unknown-to-my-kids kinds of stuff, I’m still contemplating how to encourage my kids to eat them and don’t make
their grandmother disappointed. Suddenly my mother-in-law called me at the kitchen and showed me two special machines that miraculously turn fruits and vegetables into juice in seconds– a juicer and an osterizer! It’s her special way to encourage the kids to consume more fruits and vegetables, to serve them in liquid form or as a juice. The process itself can be made into a fun and interactive activity; allowing the kids to get involved in the creation of their juice is more likely to give them a reason to enjoy it. Juicing is healthier because it is fresh, unpasteurized and it doesn’t contain any added sugars. In short, it is all-natural and when you drink it, your body will benefit from the live enzymes and nutrients.
She let me and the kids marveled on how these powerful machines turned the colorful fruits and veggies into liquid form. The kids were amazed (and also am). After the blending and juicing, it’s time to drink. Now, this is the challenging part: will the kids drink it? I tell you, when my 2-year old sip it, she suddenly stopped and with her mouth full, she was about to blow. I’m in a panic looking for a container where she can spit it, but then after a few seconds, she took it all in! We were all clapping and cheering, thus she even asked for more. (oh what a relief! Perfect scenario: healthy kids, proud mommy, happy mother-in-law 🙂 ) My 4 and 6 years old also enjoyed their share of the juice.
Blending spinach, carrots, beets and other veggies into fruit smoothies can be a great way for picky eaters to get the nutrients they need. But at the same time, we should never ever give up on serving them whole produce. Juicing (using a juicer) and smoothies (using an osterizer) are both essential to a healthy diet. The big difference between the two is, juicing extracts the juice from the fiber. While smoothies blend whole fruits and vegetables, leaving the fiber intact–which is also beneficial to our system in many aspects.
Here are two simple and healthy recipes to start with:
Yummy Three Juice
3 beetroot (small)
Gluten-Free Strawberry Juice
A handful of spinach
3 celery sticks
1 large carrot
Red Veggie Juice
1 beetroot (small)
2 Fuji apples
2 celery sticks
A handful of spinach
Half a cucumber
Introduce fruits and vegetables as soon as your baby is ready to eat solid foods, however, consult your doctor before giving any fruit or vegetable to your baby. As healthy as it is, we should also be cautious with the amount of juice that we give our kids. It’s worth bearing in mind that they generally require far smaller doses than adults. It is recommended daily to take 1/2 cup for 6years olds and below and 1cup for over 6years of age. Upon knowing my mother-in-law’s juicy secret, I think I will be able to include more fruits and vegetables in my children’s diet. (By the way, she also gifted me an osterizer! Thanks, mom! 🙂 )
About The Author
Andrea is a full time home maker. When she is not busy taking care of her husband and kids, she goes out giving financial management talks. She is a proud breastfeeding mom for four years running and an avid Oleia user.