Kids don’t like vegetables, and they don’t like fruit. As adults, we know we need to eat more fruit and vegetables for our health, but kids don’t. In fact, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that fewer than 20 percent of children ages 2 to 5 eat the recommended amount of vegetables; and fewer than 50 percent eat the recommended amount of fruit.
One of the best ways to make kids eat more fruits and vegetables is to get them into the kitchen with you. Kids will eat food better than they helped prepare. They will even eat foods they hated previously. And they will not only eat healthy foods but will even prefer them over junk.
Children’s eating habits are shaped by many factors. The style of parenting, for example, makes a difference. If the parents serve broccoli, the kids will usually eat it. If the parents serve hot dogs, the kids will not.
It is harder to figure out what accounts for the variation in kids’ eating habits across cultures. But parents’ attitude toward eating is probably the biggest influence. However, sometimes even parents who serve nutritious food will see their kids rejecting it.
Parents can encourage their children to eat more fruits and vegetables by making them attractive. They can use attractively designed plates, colorful vegetables as centerpieces, and a variety of foods.
Here are some simple tips that will help you integrate more fruits and veggies into your child’s diet:
1. Replace sweet desserts with fruit
2. Use healthier alternatives in recipes: Avocado: Use instead of butter in cakes and pastries or Arugula: Great substitution for basil in tomato-based meals
3. Put fruits and vegetables in attractive shapes
4. Involve your child in the cooking process
5. Keep snacks handy
6. Add fruits to breakfast
7. Choose healthy kid-friendly recipes
8. Praise when kids eat healthy food