How To Get Your Kids To Eat More Fruit & Vegetables
Kids can be fussy eaters and often stubborn about what they will and won’t eat. This article provides you with the steps we recommend you take to get your kids to eat more fruit and vegetables!
After attending the Tony Robbins event in 2007, my husband and I (childless at this stage) decided to become Vegetarian. We went cold turkey. We didn’t find it particularly hard, however, to be honest, I think we didn’t spend too much time agonising over the decision. Personally, I had never really been a big fan of meat and so we just switched it out for extra veggies and tofu in our stir-fry.
Our diets were pretty simple back then, stir fry’s… steamed vegetables… curries… stir fry’s… ok, so I mainly just remember the stir fry’s! Life was a breeze – you needed to eat… so you ate! End of story.
Let’s fast forward a few years and throw two kids in the mix – hmmm… very different story.
My kids were not raised plant-based from birth. Once I fell pregnant with my first child, I felt obligated (by an unfounded perception) to go back to a standard diet, so that is what I fed her once she transitioned to solids. This continued for the few years that followed and for my second child.
Whilst diary was limited due to intolerances, they were fed a mixed diet including both red and white meat as well the occasional cheese and yoghurt. It was the usual story, they loved Vegemite on toast, but avocado and cucumber not so much.
Then in 2013, I decided to go back to being Vegetarian for my own health reasons. I came across a book called ‘Eat To Live’, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and it all made sense. Not being one to create too much extra work for myself, I decided the whole family would all go on this journey together. Having said that, I didn’t stop my kids from eating meat if we were out and someone offered it to them (in hindsight I just didn’t feel confident enough to stand up for what I knew was best for them).
Then in 2014, my daughter (then just 7 years), fractured her leg. Not a big deal I hear you say. Except for something about it didn’t seem right. It took three months to heal with a brace, and then within a few short weeks, she had a suspected fracture in her foot – from dancing at Christmas Carols on the grass. Again, something didn’t seem right. The Doctors did a bone density scan and on Christmas Eve I received a call to say she had Osteoporosis.
It was one of those moments when time seems to stand still and you feel as though your world starts to spin! I didn’t know what to do, I researched as much as I could but it was considered very rare for children to have Osteoporosis, and to make matters worse the specialist appointment wasn’t for another two months. When I asked our Doctor what we could do in the meantime he said if nothing else improve your diet. Cut out the chemicals, pack in the nutrients.
So, we drew a line in the sand and decided that plant-based was once again the best way forward. Now we just had to get the kids on board!
Long story, cut short, this is what we did and what we recommend you also do to get your kids to eat more fruit and vegetables.
8 steps to get your kids to eat more fruit and vegetables!
Step 1: Get rid of any foods that are not plant-based immediately.
I am not one to waste foods, so we packed everything up that wasn’t plant-based and offered it to our friends and family – we did feel a little guilty about doing this, however, they were very grateful. If it’s not in the house, you won’t be tempted to eat it and you can truthfully state that you don’t have any of X when the kids ask.
Step 2. Buy a variety of fruit and vegetables and prep them all in containers in your fridge, and place a large fruit bowl within easy reach on the bench top.
This one takes a little getting used to but will make your life so much easier in the long run. You will be able to get a feel for the types of things your kids like and dislike plus you have everything ready to go when you cook or prepare lunches.
Step 3. Modify the rule that they can’t snack between meals.
I know, this goes against everything your own mum likely ever told you, but trust me this step is crucial!
The new rule is: You can snack at any time from any one of these boxes of pre-cut fruit and vegetables, or from the fruit bowl on the counter. Even right before dinner. Yes, you heard right, even right before dinner! And, they don’t have to ask.
Every time they come to you saying “I’m hungry!”, tell them they no longer have to ask to eat any of the fruit and veg that is prepared for them in the fridge boxes or on the counter. Be warned they will resist this, there will be some whinging. They may even go on a hunger strike but rest assured, it will only last a day or so, then they will be so hungry they will start to explore what is on offer.
Step 4. Model the behaviour you want your children to adopt.
Snack from the fridge boxes yourself, talk to your kids about what you like best and encourage them to share these snacks with you.
Step 5. Involve your children in the food preparation.
We do our grocery shop on a Sunday and start prepping as soon as we get home. I get the kids involved as much as possible so they feel a sense of ownership. They were reluctant at first but seem to enjoy it now. I have also just started getting them to make the salad for dinner each night which allows them to get a little creative.
Step 6. Don’t attempt to manage your child’s caloric intake.
Kids are pretty good at managing their own caloric intake when you are providing them with a variety of healthy food options. Avoid the ‘accidentally’ Vegan high sugar/junk food options and you will find they will start to recognise their own signs of being hungry or full.
Step 7. Include a salad every day!
Get creative with your salads and include vegetables where possible. Don’t expect the kids to eat huge amounts at first and don’t pressure them. They will see with time that it is a part of every meal and will follow your lead.
Step 8. Change the way you talk about food.
Talk to your kids about the purpose that food serves – to nourish your body and soul. Refer to food as a source of fuel, just like a car needs fuel to keep running, so too does their body. Remind them that they only get one body so they need to be sure to always nourish it with the right types of foods. You will be surprised how quickly they catch on.
Taking these steps made our transition to plant-based a lot easier and had the added benefit of getting our kids to eat a lot more fruit and vegetables than they ever had before. I have found they are no longer fussy about food. They are willing to try new things and they also have some ownership over what they put in their bodies.
Give it a try and let us know how you go! 🙂
Post a Comment