An endless source of stress for parents is the ability to get their little (and big) ones to eat a balanced and varied diet. This is particularly important during potty training as any kind of constipation or dehydration can result in more accidents and the whole process can end up taking much longer and being far more stressful for parents and children.
It is therefore really important to get children drinking plenty of water and to eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. Ideally, we would love our kids to eat a fully unprocessed healthy diet, but sometimes it doesn’t work like that, therefore knowing some hacks for how to include healthy food even on the off days can help limit the damage. Personally, I found just cooking and serving green and leafy vegetables for my children made me feel like a better parent, the consumption of them was an added bonus!
I recently read Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s Four Pillar Plan and in it he says he is passionate about the power of eating five a day and he says this can also help to reduce the harmful effect of other foods. I’m sure the message here isn’t eat fast food thrice daily with a side of broccoli to stay healthy, but it is great advice for parents of fussy eaters to add to their existing diet to ensure that their children are getting five a day.
Registered Nutritional Therapist, Keeley Nicholas has given us her advice on what we should be feeding our children. Keeley recommends that half the meal should consist of vegetables and that every day they should eat a rainbow of mainly vegetables. With fruit, choose blueberries, strawberries, cherries, blackberries, plums, raspberries, apples and bananas. These types of foods do tend to have high pesticide residues, so consider buying organic where possible.
Top tips for encouraging children to eat their five a day
Feed your children their vegetables first as their hunger can help motivate them to try them. Some sticks of vegetables with a dip make an excellent starter, or snack.
Some children eat more at certain mealtimes, therefore choose their ‘hungry mealtime’ as the time to introduce the less sweet vegetables such as the dark leafy greens.
Let them experiment and choose their favourites. This could be made into a game where you get them involved in shopping for different fruits and vegetables. You could then prepare them and present them as a rainbow of colours before doing a taste test where you can all score the samples tried.
Start with small portions and offer a variety of different ones at each meal. Pre-prepared mixed vegetables are perfect for this.
Keep a good supply of vegetables in the freezer so that they are quick and easy to prepare.
Root vegetables are relatively sweet and as a result are often popular with children.
Mashing, blending and pureeing vegetables and then stirring them into meals such as Bolognaise is a good way of hiding them.
Finger food is often popular, especially served with a dip. Try hummus or unsweetened natural yoghurt as options for dips.
Our taste buds introduce us to a particular flavour, but the experience of eating is based on smell, appearance and our expectations. If we think we’ll like a food, there’s a much better chance that we actually will. Presenting it on nice plates and cutting it into interesting shapes can all help increasing the attractiveness of the meal. We love Munchkin Smile N Scoop Training Plate and spoon for younger children and Rainbow Unicorn Bamboo Tableware Set