How do you get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables? Make them taste better! It seems simple, but researchers from Harvard School of Public Health have shown great taste and a little patience may be all it takes.
Our tips to make your children eat healthier
Many children eat fruits and vegetables less than once a day, while most should be eating between three and four servings of produce every day. Though you may not have the power to have a chef cook for your child every day, there are some techniques you can adopt in your own kitchen to encourage your whole family to eat more fruits and vegetables.
1. Pack on the flavor
Many kids (and adults) simply don’t enjoy the tastes of some vegetables. Until a child learns to appreciate the bitter taste of Brussels sprouts or the spicy kick of a radish (yes, it can happen!) there is nothing wrong with adding flavors you know your child likes. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on broccoli, soy sauce on asparagus or fresh ginger on steamed greens may be all it takes to turn your child into a veggie-lover.
2. Cook like you mean it
Cooking methods can alter the taste and texture of fruits and vegetables—often for the better to a child. Some kids just don’t like the texture of certain vegetables. Try roasting vegetables to make them crisp, and add a drizzle of olive oil or a shake of Parmesan cheese. Roasting cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts tames their strong bitter flavors, while grilling fruit like bananas and pineapples evokes an extra sweetness that kids will love.
3. Focus on “DO”
Emphasize what your child should eat, not what to avoid. A study from Cornell University found that people respond better to positive rather than negative messages on health. Instead of telling your child he can’t have ice cream because it’s unhealthy, reinforce that a dessert like frozen bananas offers both sweetness and nourishment.
4. Be persistent
Don’t give up – it takes kids awhile to adjust to new foods. Children sometimes need seven months to adapt before eating more vegetables and fruits. If your child says “no” to spinach at dinner tonight, try again tomorrow. Over time, kids and adults can learn to accept new foods and to love eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
Have fun trying out – good appetite!