We all know that fruit and the nutrients it provides are an essential part of children’s everyday diet. Some kids absolutely love their fruit, but for many others getting them to eat their 5 a day can be a serious challenge. However, this doesn’t need to be a constant battle between kids and parents…
We at Gogo Fruit Basket have put together a few tips and tricks to help parents get their kids to not only eat their fruit, but really enjoy it and look forward to it as an exciting treat every day.
1.Take them fruit picking
Get your kids outside and back to nature’s roots. Fruit picking can be a great way to help children have fun and connect with fruit; learning where fruit comes from and how it grows nurtures an interest in fruit in your children, which makes them more likely to eat it. It’s also a great way for them to learn about local food and the importance of supporting local producers.
2. Let them help with cooking and baking
Get your children more involved in the meals and snacks they eat, as this can be a subtler way of suggesting what they should be eating, rather than forcing healthy food on them. Show them how diverse fruit is; bake fruit crumbles, stew jam from berries, make smoothies; let them try different ways of cooking fruit and using fruit in recipes to help them become more creative with fruit and get involved in the kitchen.
3. Help them choose their fruit when you go shopping
Giving them the power makes children more willing. A lot of resistance kids give in response to instructions from parents is simply for the sake of saying no, so letting them choose puts the ball in their court; and as we know, kids love playing grown-up. Buying fruit at markets can be even better, as kids can talk to sellers, see fruit being weighed out, and have a bit more fun.
4. Get artistic
It’s a known fact that the more attractive food looks, the more likely we are to want to eat it. Fruit is naturally colourful, but adding something a bit special can help kids have a bit more fun with fruit, and get more excited to eat it. Try out fruit animals, fruit skewers, fruit salsa; and fabulous party plates can be great for birthdays.
5. Don’t reward eating fruit with unhealthy snacks
This reinforces their idea that they shouldn’t enjoy fruit as it is ‘healthy’. Instead, if possible, combine fruit and something less healthy or more perceived as a ‘treat’ that they enjoy so they start to appreciate the fruit as a yummy snack too. Try apple slices and almond butter, banana nicecream and choc chips (just frozen bananas whizzed up in a food processor until smooth- honestly as good as ice-cream!) or strawberries and melted dark choc.
6. Always keep it accessible
The easier something is to eat, the more likely we are to do so. Make sure to keep fruit on display- make your fruit bowl visible and accessible to encourage them to get into the habit of reaching for the fruit bowl when they are peckish instead of the biscuit jar.
7. Don’t force the whole portion
Don’t cause a battle or be punishing in forcing them to finish a whole portion of fruit if they don’t want it, as this will reinforce their negative attitude to fruit; forcing=negative food experience. Instead make it more gradual, encouraging them to eat as much as they fancy, or come back to eat it later. BUT make sure you don’t give in and give them unhealthy snacks if they haven’t finished their fruit.
8. Provide dried fruit instead of sweets
Dried fruit can be a great alternative to sweets if your little ones are pining for sugar. It has got a higher sugar content than fresh fruit, but at least is natural, so a better option than sweets with all the processed nasties. Plus, it tastes delicious and its great for digestion in small amounts. Try dried apricots, dates, raisins and dried mango.
9. Mix it up
Give them lots of options on different days, trying lots of different types of fruit. This stops them getting bored and also gives them a chance to develop favourite fruit. Consider ‘fruit of the week’ or a different special fruit each day to keep things fun, and change the fruit you have in the house to suit what is seasonal.
10. Give them more incentive
If ‘it’s healthy’ isn’t going to cut it, instead try ‘it’ll make your hair grow’, ‘it’ll give you glowing skin’ and ‘it’ll make you stronger’. We all know ‘bread crusts will make your hair curly’ used to work back in the day, so the same rule goes for fruit- a few fibs never hurt anyone…
11. Set a good example
Kids are great copycats, so make sure to eat lots of fruit in front of them! It’s no good telling your children to eat healthily then letting them watch you scoff biscuits and chocolate; it needs to be the same rule for you and for them. This will encourage your own healthy eating habits as well as theirs.
12. Most importantly…Never give up!
Persistence is key with young kids- You’ll get there.