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How do you get children to eat more fruit and vegetables?

It can be challenging, but there are benefits to involving children in shopping, meal decisions and food preparation.

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

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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