Top tips to achieving 5 a day for kids
Everyone seems to now be well aware of the government’s “5 A Day” message, but are we all following it and most importantly are our little ones?
From around the age of one it is recommended that children, as well as adults, should be consuming five fruit and vegetables every day. However it is important to remember that what may be a portion for you would not count as one portion for your child. As a rough estimate of portion size, it is normally suggested that one portion for a toddler is roughly equal to the size of the palm of their hand.
However some parents struggle to get their little ones eating enough fruit and veggies so see below on my five top tips to getting them munching their way to “5 A Day”.
- Start young
Evidence has shown time and time again that preferences to certain foods are developed from a young age. As soon as you start weaning your baby (at around six months) start to introduce your baby to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and continue to offer this variety as your children get older. Exposure is a sure fire way to acceptance.
- Add to their favourite foods
Include vegetables in their favourite meals such as in toppings on pizzas or in pasta dishes. Initially they may pick the veggies out but they will soon get bored with doing this if you continue and are consistent. Additionally, whatever breakfast cereal your little ones have, add a handful or raisins or fresh fruits such as strawberries for added nutritional benefits.
- Always be persistent
The number of times parents say: “I don’t offer those, he doesn’t like them”. If we give up as soon as a food is refused, we will end up with a list as long as our arm of foods that you no longer buy or offer. Instead keep offering refused foods, as research shows that some children need to be offered a food 15-20 times before they will accept it! So make sure you
keep trying – if they aren’t offered it how will they learn to like it?
- Make mealtimes enjoyable
Try not to make mealtimes a battle and avoid forcing the issue of eating fruit and vegetables. Instead try and make mealtimes a fun occasion by playing games, telling jokes and stories around the topic of fruits and vegetables. Alternatively, every now and then, have a picnic in the garden or decorate the dining table and make the food at these
occasions based around those fruit and vegetables.
- Role modelling is key
Ensure brothers, sisters, cousins and all family members are seen eating up their fruit and vegetables (whilst making lots of yummy noises) – at young ages role models are very important – so make sure the family is on board to help and encourage.
Photography: Stephanie Chapman @Flickr