Kids aged between 4 and 13 need around 5 serves of veggies each day. Did you know only around 6% of Australian kids hit this amount?
- Serve veggies with every meal and snack – So many kids I see in clinic only eat vegetables with dinner, but we can’t expect that kids will eat all 5 serves with dinner – because they simply won’t be able to fit them all in. Try giving them a vegetable frittata muffin for lunch or morning tea – we grate a zucchini, a carrot and some parmesan and mix it through some whisked egg & parsley and cook them in patty pans for school lunchboxes.
- Make “treat” food healthier, such as adding zucchini, beetroot or sweet potato to sweet muffins – you’ll find there are loads of recipes online. Over time, reduce the amount of sweetener you use in baking so your kids get a taste for not-so-sweet sweet food.
- If they won’t eat them, blend them! A green smoothie is the perfect way to get a serve of green vegetables in at afternoon tea time. Add a tablespoon of seeds, a tablespoon of avocado, a handful of frozen blueberries or a mango cheek to a cup of milk with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dash of vanilla and you have a delicious and nutritious afternoon tea. Veggies can also be blended through Bolognese sauce, pizza topping – the only limit is your imagination.
- I find my kids are more adventurous if they’re allowed to serve themselves – tacos or fajitas are a great way to introduce kids to serve-your-own-salad; chopped tomato, sliced cabbage, red capsicum, lettuce etc. Try not to make a big fuss if they don’t eat much the first few times, but keep on offering them up and eventually (hopefully!), they’ll start to eat more.
- Try my recipe for green pikelets – they’re delicious, filled with protein, and they give your kids a serve of green vegetables for breakfast!
- Persistence is key! I’ve experienced fussy eating in my kids, and it can be such a big source of stress. But as a parent with kid who’s now started to come through the other side, I can confirm – there’s hope! Keep offering it up and they’ll get there eventually.
- Frame conversations about food in a positive way, with regards to health and how we feel – not in terms of food being “good” or “bad”, but why we eat food and what nutrients our bodies need from it. Food gives us energy, helps to give us better moods, and fuels our immune system to keep us stay well!
- Limit the amount of processed, refined, sugary foods your kids are eating – even just having them in the house can be distracting and can affect the other food kids will be happy to eat. Stick to vegetable sticks, fruit, cheese, nuts/seeds, plain rice crackers and home-made wholefood treats for snacks instead of packaged, refined snack food that offer little in the way of nutrients.
- Getting kids involved in the cooking process can really help with them wanting to try new foods. Look through some cookbooks together and pick out a couple of new recipes they like the look of.