It’s a struggle feeding my child healthy food all the time. Grocery store battles do happen. I give Zoe a Trader Joes treat– so I can shop in peace. I make promises to myself to not bring her to the store with me, but that’s near impossible. I let my daughter eat sugar-coma cupcakes at birthday parties. I serve my kid hot dogs. And she’s eaten Happy Meals. Convenience food is easy and well … convenient. But obviously super unhealthy.
I keep searching for ways to free my family from processed foods. We are in the middle of a food revolution in our household. I am guilty of sneaking into my bathroom to shove cookies in my mouth so my daughter does not see me eating the not so healthy “snack.” I’m a pro at turning my back and eating over the kitchen sink. But we’ve been making some major progress in what we allow in our kitchen these days.
I think as parents, we are just trying to help our kids not be addicted to the “empty calorie” foods that we were raised eating. I believe we can all agree that our children deserve to be healthy and we as parents are responsible to guide our children to make healthy choices. So try every possible way to get fruits and veggies in your child’s body. It’s not always going to be easy. But the success story will be that much more triumphant.
If you know you are not feeding your family enough fruits and veggies, then that awareness alone is half the battle. Let the food revolution begin!
How to encourage your child to eat more fruits and veggies
1. Let your child pick out fruits and veggies at the farmer’s market or grocery store. “Let me do it myself,” is a typical response from a young child. So why not let your child pick out their own healthy snacks? I let my daughter pick out fruits and veggies on her own– usually 2-3 items. When we are at home, she will constantly ask to snack on the items she chose herself. Her favorites: strawberries, blueberries, grapes, avocado, and pomegranate (this is a messy one with a bazillion seeds).
2. Only offer healthy snacks. Kids are often hungry for a snack when out and about. I only pack fruit and veggie snacks with me. Dried fruit and nuts are great snacks to keep in the car at all times. I pack at least three different options for my daughter to choose from when I pick her up for school or we’re out running errands. Here is the combo I usually have on hand: banana, apple, pear, clementines, carrots, raisins, almonds.
3. Show off fruits and veggies. The easiest way to do this is to display your fruits and veggies in all their bright and colorful glory. Isn’t the veggie snack tray above super cute? How about using a heart cookie cutter for watermelon slices?
4. Make an easy to access fruit bowl. You can put a fruit bowl on the counter (if your child can reach) or on a table. Put easy to grab and ready to consume pre-washed fruits in the bowl like apples, pears, grapes, bananas, nectarines and peaches. I let my daughter help me put away groceries. Her responsibility is to arrange the fruit bowls.
*Image via: Moodboard/Corbis
5. Have a snack shelf in the fridge. My daughter knows where to look in the refrigerator for easy to grab snacks. This is a good place to keep mini bowls with pre-cut fruit and vegetable servings ready to eat: carrots, pre-sliced strawberries, unsweetened applesauce, cheese snacks.
6. Have a snack basket in the pantry. I have a low shelf in my pantry that I dedicate to my child because she can see it and reach it. These are great for a quick grab and go snack. Inside the basket: tiny raisin boxes, kettle corn, nuts, cereal. You can buy in bulk and then make mini bags of these snacks.
7. Avoid adding sweeteners to fruit. My daughter loves honey. She will ask to add honey to her fruit. I tell her that fruit is naturally sweet, and it already has sugar in it. I keep repeating this to her so she knows that fruit is naturally sweet and tasty.
8. Cook meals and prepare snacks with your child. Expand your child’s vocabulary by introducing them to the ingredients you use in your meals. Zoe grabs a stool and sits next to me in the kitchen. Let them watch you cook and give them age appropriate tasks to be your little sous chef. They can measure and poor liquids, place cut veggies and herbs into small bowls, stir, push buttons, peel and spread. This is a perfect time for your child to sample veggies before adding them into the meal.
9. Blend green smoothies. Pack in your child’s fruit and veggie requirements by making a daily green smoothie with spinach, kale, banana and berries. Have your child help pour in the liquids, add the fruits and veggies and push the blend button. Serve it for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
10. Blend veggies into your favorite sauces. Some people call it deceptive. I call it brilliant. Make your favorite pasta sauce and blend it with veggies like zucchini, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery and sweet potato.
Just remember it takes time to adjust to new habits. With consistency, your child will understand what foods they have the option to eat. Kids are smart and will eat when they are truly hungry. If they only have healthy options available, your child will have to choose to eat something eventually. And guess what? It will be healthy!
Join the conversation on fruits & veggies…
How do you get your children to eat their fruits and veggies? Share your tip in the comments below! Struggling with a picky eater? Let us know what you are struggling with. Let’s get a dialogue started for getting good whole foods in our children’s bodies.