Paint Your Plate at Home

Vegetables and fruit are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fibre that contribute to good health. They can be easy to prepare, affordable and they are tasty! Here are some proven ways you can get your kids to eat more vegetables and fruit.

  1. Get them involved

Include your children in shopping, choosing and preparing vegetables and fruit. Let your child choose fun containers designated to pack vegetables and fruit for their lunch bag. Have them help you fill these containers every day with flavourful produce of their choice.

  1. Keep them visible

Keep a bowl on the counter filled with fresh fruits such as apples, oranges or bananas. Refrigerate cut up veggies and fruit in containers or little zipped bags for ready to go snacks.

  1. Offer something new with something known

Serve a new vegetable or fruit with a familiar one that your child likes.  Consider adding a tasty, nutritious dip such as hummus, guacamole or plain yogurt.

  1. Change it up

Toss some blueberries in with the usual apple slices or serve mixed frozen vegetables instead of a single veggie (e.g. green peas) to change things up. When possible, choose local and seasonal vegetables and fruit for more variety.

  1. Keep at it

Many children need to be offered a new food several times before trying it, so keep offering new vegetables or fruit at meal and snack times, without pressuring them to try.

  1. Lead by example

You are your child’s best role model. You increase the chances that your child will eat a variety of vegetables and fruit if they see you enjoying them on a regular basis.

For help with specific challenges, try these tips:

Tight for time

Tip: Choose pre-packaged fresh, frozen, or canned veggies and fruit or salad in a bag that is ready-to-eat to reduce prep time. Set aside a little time each week to get the family involved in washing, peeling and/or chopping produce to store in containers in the fridge.

Too much gets wasted

Tip: Plan a menu for meals and snacks for the week. Make a grocery list based on your menu and stick to the list when you are at the store.  Try preparing the meals with fresh produce at the beginning of your grocery week to minimize spoilage and use frozen or canned produce during the end of the week.

Too expensive

Tip: Look at weekly flyers for promotions and coupons on vegetables and fruit. Many grocery stores will price match! Buy in bulk, wash and chop vegetables and fruit to freeze, so you can use them at a later time. Consider buying some frozen and canned produce as it can often be less expensive and lasts longer than fresh. Unsweetened applesauce or canned fruit packed in water are great snacks for school as an alternative to fresh produce.

Not hungry for veggies and fruit

Tip: Watch out for packaged foods, such as chips or sweets and sugary drinks, consumed between meals and snacks. Extra snacking on these types of choices can cause your child to fill up on foods that are often higher in fat, sugar and salt; making them less hungry to eat healthier foods. Try a healthy snack, such as unsweetened yogurt or nut/seed butter and fruit or veggie sticks and hummus in between meals to boost veggie and fruit intake.

Not sure what to do with different veggies and fruits

Tip:  Add a new veggie or fruit into some of your favourite meals and snacks. Try adding grated or chopped vegetables to your favourite meat sauce, pasta dish or mashed potatoes. Make an energy boosting smoothie by adding fresh or frozen berries and a handful of spinach.

Veggies and fruit are boring

Tip: Companies often market packaged snack foods in fun shapes or with characters to make them more appealing for kids to eat. Eating should be enjoyable and satisfying, but a ‘fun factor’ is not necessary. Prepare vegetables and fruit in appealing ways and enjoy them yourself. When your kids see you enjoying them, they won’t want to miss out!

They still won’t eat their vegetables

Tip: Be patient. Over time, children will learn to eat most of the foods that you eat (including vegetables). It is important to set regular meal and snack times (so that children are hungry and ready to eat), not pressure, coax or coerce them to eat, and not allow eating and drinking (except for plain water) in between meals and sit-down snacks (which can spoil their appetite for meals).

Children who sit down regularly to eat with their family in a relaxed setting are more likely to eat vegetables and fruit (now and when they grow up); so turn off the television, put away any mobile devices, sit-down and enjoy mealtimes!

Sources:

EatRight Ontario www.eatrightontario.ca

Foodland Ontario www.foodlandontario.ca

Half Your Plate www.halfyourplate.ca