How to Make Your Children Eat More Fruit & Veg

marissa-marrow

Talking the other day on Twitter to Susan of Food Blogga I realized that I’m very lucky mom of children that don’t have big problem eating vegetables, and even want to eat them.

My 3 year old daughter loves peas, beans, tomatoes, basil and any other leaves (she can just east them on their own)… everything. The only food I find she have problem with are little foods that are mixed and she does not know what is inside, like couscous salad. But if I give her all ingredients before I mix them, she will eat most of it.
Since she was very small I let her help me in the kitchen, watch, unpack Maggi cubes etc… she is always in the kitchen with me. I take her also to do grocery shopping and let her choose some of the fruit and vegetables. We always try to buy something that she has never tried, most of the time she loves it because she chosen it. Like pod peas that are in season now, she loves to peel them and then eat them steamed (Microwave Steamed Pod Peas).
Until a while ago Marissa had aversion to rice, she did not like it… till I let her stir butter and spices in the pot of rice so she could see how is it made… since that time rice is not a problem any more.

Different story with my step son that is now 13. When D’wayne came to live with us he was 9 and would not want to eat anything except fried chicken and macaroni & cheese. He grow up eating unhealthy and getting rid of those habits took me few years but now he eat most of fruit and veg without bigger problem… of course he still like to eat some fried chicken or burger when he is not at home, but who doesn’t do that from time to time.

Of course children loves sweets and you can’t completly cut out them from their diet, but you can reduce it. I do buy some little sweets for children, but only little packages such as surprise eggs, happy hippo, small chocolate bars. With the yournger one it is very easy as she loves fresh and dried fruits, nuts same much as sweets.

Replace fast food with healthier versions, all children love fries so why don’t you bake them instead of frying (Baked Potato Slices), or make Beetroot Brownies for dessert.

So my advise is:

  • Feed them with fruit and veg before they know they don’t like it, before they can walk or talk.
  • Don’t give up, with older children it can take few years, it is hard to change old bad habits.
  • Engage little ones in your shopping and cooking, let them choose and help to prepare.
  • Reduce ready foods and sweets but let them have it from time to time.
  • If you cook and eat healthy yourself, your children will follow you.
  • The sooner you start introduce your child to all kind of healthy foods the better, hopefully later those childhood experiences will change into healthy eating habits and love for good food ;)

And what are your tips and tricks to make your children eat healthy?

Your thoughts…

  1. My immersion blender is my best friend in the kitchen – I use it for blending all sorts of cooked veggies and hiding them in pasta sauce, etc. My 3-year-old helps me in the kitchen and has been exposed to all sorts of foods living over here in Japan, and neither my husband nor I are picky, but our son for some reason is VERY picky about foods, though he’s getting better bit by bit.

  2. First of all, adorable picture. And, I agree, having them in the kitchen is the way to go. I have been working on a post about all the recent cooking with Belle experiences we have had. It really helps them enjoy foods.

  3. Oh, I LOVE that pic, Margot. He’s precious. Thanks for the shout-out. It’s so cool when we inspire one another. Gonna tweet this right now. :)

  4. She’s so cute!

  5. Thank you for all comments! :)

    Abigail – agree, blender is my friend too… especially when I make soups ;)

    Susan, that is actually she (Marissa)… before I learned how to manage her bi-racial curls we reached the point where I had to shave her head… it was sooo bad. Now I do much better… you can see it here:
    http://www.coffeeandvanilla.com/?p=5712

    Maybelles Mom – I’m looking forward to read this post.

    Helene – Thanx :)

  6. I have three children and they all have different eating habits, despite my having introduced them to food in the same way! I breastfed each of my children for at least a year, then weaned them on a varied selection of homemade purees and finger foods. My eldest (now 6 yrs) was very fussy at an early stage, but now eats most things with relish and enjoys trying new foods. My middle child (4yrs on Saturday) has a varied but very set diet – she is very reluctant to taste anything new but eats a wide range of fruit and vegetables. My youngest child (2 yrs) loves to help me in the kitchen (he evens chops carrot sticks incredibly carefully and comes running into the kitchen to help at the slightest sound of a pan being stirred or a mixer being taken out of the cupboard) but is the fussiest of all my three.

    I’m not sure there’s any easy answer – but the best advice I can offer is to make sure that you don’t turn mealtimes into a battlefield. It really hurts to see your lovingly homemade dinners being rejected (and even those dishes that they’ve enjoyed helping to make themselves), but if you’re providing your children with healthy choices and a good role model through your own eating habits, then you just have to trust that everything will work out fine in the end.

  7. Wow, Kate – thank you for such a long and informative comment! :)

    I’m very happy to hear from all of you about your experiences and tips because all I know is what I learned during the last few years with my own kids… and it wasn’t easy on the beginning.

  8. Such good advice here! I’m still trying to reform my 30-something husband… it’s been 10 years of working in veggies and still not giving up.

  9. hello margot, this is very helpful and interesting:) thanx for the great tips. my kids sometimes du eat fruits and vegies.. but have to improve more

  10. I saw that discussion on Twitter. :)
    I’m also lucky to have a daughter who eats most vegetables and some fruits.
    Like you said, it helps to start them early.
    It also helps if we’re not vocal about our food dislikes. Kids tend to pick them up. They tend to follow by example.
    If they’re involved in making something, they’re more likely to eat them saying “I made that”.
    Sometimes it helps to cook what children like. My daughter doesn’t like too many fruits, so I convert them into milkshakes, gelatos, low fat ice-creams, frozen yogurt, etc.
    And I’m discovering that my daughter is more ready to experiment with and accept foods as she grows older, so there’s always hope. :D

  11. When I was younger I couldn’t eat a lot of wheat, milk, sugar, etc, so I actually looked forward to something like say, a CARROT, which at the time seemed like the sweetest thing in the world to me.

  12. Hi Margot,

    I don’t have kids of my own yet, but work with a wholefood nutritional supplement so am very interested in nutrition for all ages.
    A lot of the mums in our business find that their children eat more fruit and vegetables once taking our product, that is just 17 different fruits, vegetables & grains itself. There is a great health study underway which documents this and many other great benefits – http://www.childrenshealthstudy.com/main.shtml

    It’s great to read mums are really trying to get the right nutrition for their kids; it is a tough job! Fruits and vegetables in our diet is the single most important things we can do for our health. Our product provides a great support system for this.

    I love your blog by the way Margot, keep up the fantastic work!

  13. i absolutly agree with your tips! It’s exactly what how I’m planning to do things with my little girl.
    (she is now 3,5 months old)

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