Being the parent of a picky eater can be stressful, infuriating, upsetting and worrying. Sometimes it feels like things are never going to improve. As you’ll know if you’ve visited Sneaky Veg before I struggle to get my two older kids to eat enough vegetables and one of them won’t touch fruit either! I’m always worrying that they don’t eat enough fruit and veg.
Luckily, help is at hand. I recently met Ilena Procida, a dietician who specialises in fussy eating. She works with children who are extremely fussy eaters and she has been kind enough to share with us her top tips to encourage children to eat more fruit and veg.
How to get children to eat more fruit and vegetables:
1. Take them to your local greengrocers and try to find seasonal fruit or vegetables as they are usually much tastier. You can ask the grocer for help with this and make it fun and educational.
2. Take your kids fruit picking if you can.
3. Try to visit a local farm. This gives them the chance to learn about where the fruit comes from and how it grows eg on a vine, in the ground, on a tree etc.
4. Start your own fruit and vegetable garden. This gives kids the opportunity to get familiar with fresh organic fruit and vegetables and gives them a sense of pride when they can eat something they’ve grown themselves. If you don’t have a garden growing tomatoes or herbs in a pot on a windowsill or balcony is a great place to start.
5. Get them involved in chopping and preparing the fruit and veggies for dinner (if they are old enough and supervised of course).
6. Make fruit and veg easily accessible. Have a bowl of fruit on your counter top and have freshly cut fruit and veg for snacking in the fridge ready to go.
7. Make healthy smoothies and ask them to choose their favourite fruits to put in.
8. Have fun with fruit or vegetables – make colourful fruit skewers, have fun with packed lunches, make pizza with their favourite vegetables and involve them in chopping up all vegetables and fruit they want to add.
9. Organise a social fun event for your kids to cook or prepare foods with other kids – such as a pizza party.
I’m definitely going to be trying out some of these tactics and will report back to let you know how we get on.
What do you think? Will you be trying any of these tips? And what tactics do you use to encourage your kids to eat more fruit and veg?
Ilena graduated in Human Nutrition and Dietetics at the London Metropolitan University in 2009. She is registered with the Health Professional Council, a registered body for all Health Professionals in the UK. She started working in 2010 as a general dietitian in the community and privately mainly covering healthy eating and weight loss before moving to specialise in paediatric nutrition, after a couple of years. She focused on paediatric neonatal nutrition, feeding behaviour, allergies, fussy eating and weaning. Recently she has worked a lot in her local community in south London supporting families and children by providing practical support on fussy eating, weaning and general healthy eating for toddlers and school children.