Another one of my guest blogs, this time from a lovely lady, nutrition expert Joanna. She is incredibly friendly and easy to talk to with loads of advice. I have been very lucky with my kids eating almost anything but there are plenty of friends and customers who struggle daily to get their kids to have their 5 a day. The tips below should help and if now, get in touch with Joanna!
Top tips to help children eat more fruit and veg!
Written by Joanna Injore RD Bsc (Hons) MBDA
We are all aware that fruit and vegetables are good for us and we all should be aiming for 5
portions a day. Toddlers and children are also no different. However, as parents this is often
one food group we struggle to get our children to eat enough from.
So what vitamins and minerals do you actually get from fruits and vegetables?
The top 4 are vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and folate.
Vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron and has a role in developing a healthy immune
Vitamin A helps to keep our immune system healthy as well as our vision and skin.
Potassium is needed to regulate our blood pressure
Folate is involved in red blood cell production and needed for normal cell growth
Why do we need fruit and vegetables? Can’t we give a supplement instead?
All children 6 months to 4 years should be given a supplement with vitamins A, C and D but
eating fruit and veg on top can provide other benefits. One of which is fibre. Fibre helps to
keep our digestive system working properly and prevents constipation. There is also
growing evidence that fibre help encourages healthy bacteria to grow in our gut.
Help! My child won’t eat them!
Sometimes the reluctance to eat fruit and vegetables is due to being unfamiliar with the
food’s appearance, taste or texture. Working on increasing your child’s exposure to
different food and veggies lays the foundation of getting them to eat more.
So how can we do this?
Five non-food methods to increase exposure to fruit and vegetables
Young children learn through play and there are lots of different ideas you can try to
encourage children to play with their food in a helpful way!
- Messy play: use a tray and make a road with spaghetti and use cooked broccoli or
cauliflower for the trees or make stamps from potatoes for painting. Anything you
can think of that encourages touching and playing
- Roleplay: play shops using real fruit and vegetables at your ‘supermarket’, offer fruit
and veg at your ‘restaurant’, have a picnic with dolls and teddies but use real fruit
and veg instead
- Colouring: colour in pictures of fruit and vegetables or cut pictures out and give ‘the
characters’ names and create your own stories or games.
Talking about fruit and vegetables and why they are good for our body in simple terms helps
to reinforce a positive image around these foods
- Children learn from watching us so share the same fruit or vegetables snacks with
- Learning from picture books: a recent study 1 showed looking at books of fruits and
vegetables helped children eat more and like them more! So, look for books which
feature fruit and veg and talk about them. Some books which feature fruit and veg
are The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle), Handa’s Surprise (Eileen Browne), I Will
Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato (Lauren Child) and Oliver’s Vegetables (Vivian French)
Growing your own fruit and vegetables is a great way to get children interested in food
- You don’t need lots of space just a few pots on the windowsill will do.
- Carrots, tomatoes and lettuce can all be grown in a pot. Kids will have so much fun
watering the plants and watching them grow each day
- PYO (pick your own) farms are a great day out and also a fun way of kids getting
familiar with fruit and veg and where they come from. Afterwards you can have fun
deciding how to cook them together!
Preparing meals as a family and cooking together, makes the whole process of then eating
the food a little easier. Getting kids involved in cooking helps them to feel part of the meal
and gives them a chance to touch and feel different foods, so again become more familiar.
- Kids can get involved with washing different foods and helping with preparing them
depending on their age. Young children for example can help to break broccoli into
- Older children can help prepare their lunch by cutting up cucumber or tomatoes or
adding some salad to their sandwiches.
Shopping is a good opportunity to talk about different fruits and vegetables and encourage
children to consider try new types
- When you are shopping point out the different colours or play a game of how many
yellow fruits can you find
- Get your kids involving in choosing which veg to buy. Encourage them to put their
chosen produce in the basket or trolley. This all helps with improving their familiarity
It is really important to keep food fun and pressure free. Once children become more
familiar with fruit and vegetables they will be more willing to try them!
If you want more nutrition advice you or your children please head to www.jinutriion.co.uk
Face book page https://www.facebook.com/JINutrition/
For fruit and vegetable colouring pages check out this link:
1 Appetite. 2018 Sep 1;128:32-43. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2018.05.140. Epub 2018 May 26.