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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsShopping with young children can be challenging, because many children tend to ask for unhealthy food, such as lollies or other snack foods that they have seen advertised, however, there are benefits to involving children in shopping. Shopping can be used to educate children and get them interested in trying different healthy foods. It's a great idea to get children involved in writing a shopping list, and try to take children shopping with you at least some of the time. But if the supermarket proves to be too challenging, try the fruit market. Children can take things off the list as you move around the shop. You can also offer to give children the option to choose different fruits and vegetables to try each time.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 secondsIt's a good idea though to avoid the confectionery, soft drink, and snack food aisles. If you're an early childhood educator, you might want to consider setting up a fruit market in your center with models of fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods, where children can have fun going shopping.

Skip to 1 minute and 12 secondsYou might also want to consider starting a vegetable garden, either at home or at your early childhood education center, and allow the children to be involved in planting and looking after the garden.

Skip to 1 minute and 27 secondsGrowing your own fruits and vegetables is a great way for children to learn about how they grow, and get them more interested, and more eager to try them. If you don't have much space, you could get a planter for your veranda or courtyard, and grow some compact plants, lox and herbs, tomatoes, lettuce, or strawberries. There's some easy ways you can make fruits and vegetables more attractive. You can make attractive shapes out of fruits and vegetables using a cookie cutter. You can choose different colored vegetables to eat together to make them attractive. You can add them to cereal or porridge. And some other tips-- try disguising vegetables in meals containing sauce by chopping them finely or grating them.

Skip to 2 minutes and 12 secondsIncrease the number of times that you offer vegetables. New foods need to be offered sometimes up to 15 times before your child may decide to try them. Increase the serving sizes of the vegetables that your child already likes. Offer vegetables in as many ways as possible, either diced, sliced, rounds, grated, canned, fresh or from frozen, cooked, blanched, rolled, with or without skins, in soups, casseroles, stir-fries, sandwiches, baked, boiled, steamed, BBQd, or grilled. You can try offering a small piece of vegetable each day, and reward your child for trying it, by using either a sticker chart or a fun activity that they enjoy. But, don't bribe your child by saying that they won't get dessert unless they eat their vegetables.

Skip to 3 minutes and 0 secondsThis can encourage overeating. Try vegetables as snacks or main meal entree, for example, broccoli florets, zucchini sticks, grated carrot, or chopped cherry tomatoes. Try offering vegetable soup as an entree. And don't forget to set a good example by eating them yourself. And finally, make them fun. [SINGING] Fruit salad, yummy, yummy. Fruit salad, yummy, yummy. Yummy, yummy, yummy, yummy, fruit salad. Hi, we're the Wiggles. Good nutrition is very important. Yes, the Wiggles have always tried to promote healthy eating habits for children. We found that a great way to communicate directly to children is through music, singing, and dancing. And fruit salad is one song that children love, and it has certainly encouraged them to eat healthy food. Just like a banana.

Increasing fruit and vegetable intake

It can be challenging, but there are benefits to involving children in shopping, meal decisions and food preparation. In this video we consider strategies for increasing fruit and vegetable intake which are summarised below.

Tried Tips and Tricks

  • Involve children in writing and ticking off a shopping list
  • Allow children the option to choose different fruits and vegetables to try each time they go shopping.
  • Set up a play fruit market in your home/childcare centre with models of fruits, vegetables and other healthy food
  • Involve them in the growing and maintenance of a vegetable garden, or invest in a planter for a verandah or courtyard to grow compact plants like herbs, tomatoes, lettuce or strawberries
  • Make fruits and vegetables more attractive by offering a range of different types and colours, cutting them into different shapes (using a cookie cutter) and presenting them in as many ways as possible: either diced, sliced, rounds, grated, canned, fresh or from frozen, cooked, blanched, raw, with or without skins, in soups, casseroles, stir fries, sandwiches, baked, boiled, steamed, barbecued or grilled
  • Add fruits to cereal or porridge
  • Disguise vegetables in meals with sauce (by chopping them finely or grating them)
  • Increase the number of times that you offer vegetables. New foods need to be offered up to 15 times before your child may decide to try them
  • Increase the serving sizes of the vegetables that your child already likes
  • Offer a small piece of vegetable each day and reward your child for trying it using a sticker chart or a fun activity that they enjoy
  • Make them fun- read books, play games or listen to music about healthy eating
  • Try vegetables as snacks or main meal entrees (for example, broccoli florets, zucchini sticks, grated carrot or chopped cherry tomatoes, or vegetable soup)

Avoid:

  • Avoid the confectionery, soft drinks and snack food aisles when shopping. If this is too challenging try taking them to a fruit market
  • Don’t bribe your child by saying that they won’t get dessert unless they eat their vegetables (this can encourage over-eating)
  • Don’t forget to set a good example. Remember to eat fruit and vegetables yourself

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This video is from the free online course:

Preventing Childhood Obesity: an Early Start to Healthy Living

University of Wollongong