Vegetables and fruits contain some of the most vital nutrients for our health. The Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council recommends growing children to eat five serves of vegetables, and two serves of fruit each day, to receive optimal nutritional benefits. However, our children may not have been consuming sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) national health survey shows the vast majority of children in the country are eating far too few vegetables, and the consequences are evident, with one in four children now classified overweight or obese. ABS reveals that only four per cent of kids are eating five or more serves of veggies, with almost half consuming just one serve of vegetables or less a day.
From a nutrition standpoint, fruits and vegetables are a great source of fiber. They are natural and free of preservatives. They are relatively lower in calories for a given quantity. Therefore, they do play a good role in reducing the risk of constipation and obesity. Fruits and veggies are also a great source of vitamins and minerals, and over time, good amounts of fruits and vegetables in the diet have been shown to decrease the incidence of cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. Plus, consuming fruits and vegetables also reduces the long term risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
The lack of fruits and vegetables is also closely associated with childhood obesity. Childhood obesity has been called “one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century”. It can harm a child’s heart, lungs, muscles, bones, kidneys and digestive tract. It can also affect the hormones that control blood sugar. It is no surprise the lack of fruits and vegetables in children’s diet is one of the factors that has caused obesity among children.
Health Related Issues
Vitamins and minerals, found in fruits and vegetables, help to keep bones and tissue strong, form red blood cells and maintain the central nervous system. Our body simply cannot function without these vitamins and minerals. Serious conditions such as rickets and scurvy develop due to lack of these nutrients. Fruits and vegetables are bountiful sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that protect cells from free radicals, molecules that can damage the body and lead to serious problems. Without proper fruit and vegetable consumption, we may be at greater risk for conditions like heart disease and cancer. Fiber is a very important nutrient which, among other things, helps control bowel movements. Fiber is found in fruits and vegetables, and a lack of it can cause constipation and digestive problems, as well as raise cholesterol levels.
Ways To Encourage Children To Eat Fruits And Vegetables
There are many ways to include fruits and vegetables in children’s diet;
Let your children to choose fruits or vegetables that look appealing to them at the grocery store.
Replace candies and junk food with dried fruits.
Allow children to choose the type of fruits and vegetables that they want to consume.
Introduce different types of fruits and vegetables through different meals.
Introduce and prepare fruit smoothies.
Include fruits and vegetables in children’s favourite food.
Try grilling fruit such as pineapple rings or pear, peach or apple slices.
Add veggie sticks to lunchboxes. Carrot sticks, pepper and cucumber perfect with salsa or a yogurt dip.
Try fruit sandwich
Put chopped fruits such as peaches or nectarines, or crushed berries, into natural yogurt or ice-cream.
While it is not the easiest and simplest task to encourage children to eat fruits and vegetables, parents can start by setting the example. There are also other ways to inculcate the habit of eating fruits and vegetables in children. The key is to be creative.
Leong Kim Weng is a writer who writes about parenthood's articles. He uses this platform to reach out to the young parents. Writing for www.parentsdojo.com has given him the opportunity to learn and share interesting perspectives with others.