This is a topic I often get asked about and to be completely honest, it isn’t always an easy one to address. I know how hard and discouraging it is for us parents to deal with a fussy child. I know how bad we feel when we spend time cooking a nice meal and your little one refuses to eat and the food ends up all over the floor, rather than in their mouth. So, in this post I want to share with you some tips that have worked for me and I hope they can help you too.
My son eats quite well in general, but like any child he gets fussy at times. I have also noticed that he has become a bit pickier recently as he approaches his second birthday. The truth is that most kids will go through a fussy eating phase and while it’s true that some kids are more adventurous than others when it comes to food, I also think that kids go through different phases as they grow. Remember they are learning everything about their environment, their feelings and their taste. So, the most important thing is that we, parents are patient, caring and consistent.
So, here are my tips to make your child eat more fruits and vegetables.
Be the example. The truth is that if your child doesn’t see you eating fruits and vegetables, then they won’t eat them. Most kids like to eat what their parents are eating, I see this all the time with my son. In fact, he often prefers to eat what’s on my plate instead of what’s on his own plate! Therefore, on my plate I put and eat the same food as him (with my only exception being chilli flakes, which I often add to my food separately). So, be the example and eat what you want your child to eat. I actually felt motivated to start this blog to share recipes for mums and/or dads raising vegan kids and also mums and/or dads that want their family to eat more wholefoods, without having to cook different meals for kids and adults. You will find that most of the recipes I share can easily be enjoyed by adults and toddlers alike.
Be consistent. Include fruits and vegetables on a daily basis and include them in every meal. I know we don’t always have the time and energy to cook and therefore we go for the easiest and fastest option, which are frozen foods like pizza, nuggets, chips and so on. I am not saying always avoid them as I don’t believe you have to be so extreme, but definitely only reach them when it’s really needed. So, try to ensure that 95% of the time you have real food on yours and your child’s plate.
Don’t force your child to eat. By punishing, forcing or getting angry with your child (as much as I understand how frustrating it can be at times) you are creating a tense relationship between your child and food and that can be counterproductive. Instead, say that it’s ok they can eat later. Then, as I said before, be consistent and offer fruits and/or veggies in the next meal or snack.
The sooner you start the better, but it’s never too late. If you have a weaning baby, start to offer them fruits and veggies, especially as finger food. I really like the baby-led weaning approach. I think it really helps to make kids a bit more adventurous with food and helps them to learn how to chew and how to handle chunky food.
Be creative. What I mean is explore new ways to include veggies and fruits in different meals. For instance, a nice mixed vegetable creamy soup is a perfect nourishing meal. Also, dips and homemade sauces like guacamole and hummus are great options as these are delicious and packed with good stuff. Plus, they can be eaten with steamed or raw veggies like carrots and broccoli, for example. Our most loved smoothies are also a great idea. My son loves smoothies and we have one almost every day. I add fruits, vegetables and super food powders like spirulina and chlorella and seeds like hemp, chia, sunflower, etc. Smoothies are a great way to eat fruits and veggies as they taste delicious and are super filling.
I hope you find these tips and ideas helpful to allow you to successfully include more greens in your family’s diet. I also hope you find the recipes I share here delicious and that they inspire you to cook more wholefoods on a daily basis. If you make any of the recipes, I will be very happy to see your creations. So, please share them on social media and tag @keepingitdelicious and #keepingitdelicious.