Getting your children to love fruit (and veg for that matter) is no mean feat! And with childhood obesity rates rising to unforeseen levels, you are probably keen to encourage your children to eat well and move more. Obese children are more likely to be obese in later life making them more prone to developing weight related diseases like heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, back pain, increased risk of certain cancers, low self-esteem and depression. One of the key factors contributing to the increase in childhood obesity is the shocking amount of hidden sugar in food like ready meals, salad dressing, soups and sauces like pasta sauces, breakfast smoothies, breakfast bars and yoghurts and surprisingly bread. With all of these foods containing hidden sugar, it is no wonder that people are consuming well over the recommended daily amount of sugar.
It’s recommended that women should not consume more than 25 grams of sugar per day and that men should exceed 36 grams. On average people in the UK are consuming about three times the recommended daily sugar intake. There’s also the significant rise in the consumption of high fat and salt foods due to the prevailing popularity of junk food to contend with too. So, how can you go about fighting against the growing obesity statistics? And, more importantly, how can you protect your young family from developing weight related diseases in their adulthood? One of the best ways to keep your family fighting fit and healthy is to encourage them to eat better. Combined with regular exercise, having a good diet is one of the most certain ways to live a long, full life. First Tunnels is passionate about making sure that people eat more fruit and veg, and we know that getting your children to eat more of these essential foods can sometimes be a marathon-esque challenge, so we’ve put together our Top Ten Tips to help you get your children to eat more fruit.
- Set a good example
As every parent knows, young children love being like mummy or daddy, so setting a good example by eating lots of fruit and veg yourself and by being adventurous with your food is a great way to start your children on the right path in life.
- Make fruit exciting
There are all sorts of ways to make fruit interesting for children. From cutting up and arranging different types of fruit into elaborate and fun shapes to arranging a wide variety of different coloured fruit on a bowl, making fruit look as beautiful as possible will certainly get your children excited about eating their recommended daily portions of fruit.
- Encourage them to try new food
There are all sorts of ways to encourage your children to eat more fruit and veg. From being a good role model for them to emulate by snacking on fruit and veg yourself to setting up a reward chart with star stickers for every time they try something new, there are lots of ways to encourage your children to try new food and to leave their fussy eating days behind them.
- Serve fruit and veg with every meal
This is such a simple, no nonsense approach to getting your children to eat more fruit and veg. This will also mean that your consumption of fruit and veg will increase making the whole family healthier and happier. There are all sorts of ways to add more fruit and veg to your meals, try topping cereals with plain yoghurt and fruit, add watermelon or apple chunks to your salads or make a colourful fruit salad for pudding.
- Make fruit a fun snack
Slicing up fruit like apples and pears as a quick, nutritious snack seems to attract children to fruit more than simply making the fruit available as a whole. In a study of “14 elementary and middle schools, cafeterias that sold sliced apples saw a 71 percent jump in sales compared to schools that sold whole apples”.
- Grow your own fruit and vegetables
Growing fruit with your children will definitely make them excited about eating more fruit. As soon as they start seeing ‘the fruits of their labour’ appearing, they’ll be desperate to tuck in. Take a look at our fabulous fruit cages from First Tunnels and see how easy growing your own fruit and veg can be.
- Visit farmer’s markets
Trips to farmer’s markets or pick your own fruit and vegetable farms will get your children all fired up about getting a more balanced diet. Young children particularly will love seeing where their food comes from and finding out about the journey that their food makes before it comes into your kitchen and lands on their plate.
- Let them help you with the cooking
Like being a good role model for your children, letting your children help you with the cooking, is yet another way that your children can get excited about fruit as children love doing anything that makes them feel closer to you or like a grown up!
- Study Science Together
Finding out about the science behind nutrition and why it is important to eat well and move more is another brilliant way to get your children eating a more varied, nutritionally balanced diet.
- Have family meals
Family meals not only help your children to eat a more balanced diet where they can see what you are eating and be encouraged by you eating a wide variety of fruit and veg, but they are a fabulous way to spend time together. If eating together every night is difficult due to you or your partner’s working hours, then having a family meal night once or twice a week will still help your children to eat more fruit. Try incorporating family meal night with some family bonding activities like card and board games.
Employing these handy tricks will have your children happily chomping on fruit in no time!
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Oh and here are a host of packed lunch ideas for kids that hate sandwiches (with lot more ways to get that fruit inside them!)