Fruits are loaded with essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals for growth and development. As parents, we often worry about our kids are not having enough fruits in their diet. Indeed, 60% children ate less fruits than the recommended daily amount according to Center for Disease Control between 2007-2010. 9 in 10 children are not eating enough fruits and vegetable in 2007-2010.
These are 6 tips to get your kids to eat some fruits without forcing them:
1) Fruits skewers
Make fruits skewer with kids and decorate with their favorite cartoon characters stickers i.e. Minion, Princess Elsa, Thomas & friends & etc. Serve fruits on their favorite plates. Perhaps you also can create funny names for the fruits.
2) Fruits to go with meals
Make sure to include 1 serving of fruit to go with breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snack. Sandwiches are great way to incorporate fruits with cream cheese or sliced cheese, and you can mix and match for kids by experimenting with a variety of bread like bread/wrap/dinner rolls, multigrains bread, Indian bread, I.e. chapati/naan. Make some fruits salad or fruits yogurt as snack for your kids in between meals.
3) Lead by example
Children learn what they live. Parents must try to maintain regular meal time and encorage eating at the dining table with children instead of in front of the TV. Create a grocery shopping list. Make fruits a must-have food items in your shopping list besides vegetables, wholegrains, and lean protein. We must continue to put more efforts to ensure our children get every opportunity to eat healthily. Eat with your kids to foster family bonding.
4) Be patient and keep trying
Keep introducing new fruit one at a time. Kids are afraid of new food as they have not seen them or taste them. Some kids are more adventurous than others. Study has shown that if we introduce new food to kids more than 10 times. Eventually, they will accept it. We just have to be patient.
5) Keep serving sizes small and interesting
Kids tend to refuse fruits come in big chunk. A sliced apple and pear are always more appealing to children. Remember to cut fruits into smaller bite size. Cutting fruits into different shapes to pique your kid's interest. For instance, press heart-shaped cutters into watermelon or star-shaped into banana. It makes it easier for kids to eat their fruits at school if you try to pack fruits that are cut in smaller segments rather than packing the whole fruit by quartering or peeling apple, pear or oranges by using cutter to core and segment fruits; cutting a sliced papaya or a banana in half. Prepare a handful of strawberries or a few grapes in a sealed container. Try a small pear or apple instead of a large one. Remember to rub lemon juice to avoid cut fruits from turning brown. So it still looks fresh when kids eat it.
6) Encourage children to take part in food-preparing process
Early age is the best time to develop good food habits. Teaching children to cook with healthy, fresh ingredients to make nutritious meals is one of the most important things we can do in their upbringing. We can start with some easy tasks such as plating sliced apple with raisins and lettuce in their grilled chicken sandwich, cutting banana and strawberries before adding into their cereals & garnishing pancake or yogurt with assorted fruits. They get to learn to appreciate for having real food when they see the difference between wholesome fresh foods and processed ones.
Ms. Tan Yen Sing, a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (previously known as American Dietetic Association), California Dietetic Association and Nutrition Society of Malaysia. She graduated from the Ohio State University majored in Human Nutrition, option in Dietetics. She previously worked at Kindred Hospital Los Angeles, a long term acute care hospital. She returned to Malaysia in September 2007 and joined Prince Court Medical Centre from 2008 to 2013 as a clinical dietitian. She was heading the dietetics services department at Tropicana Medical Centre from 2014 to 2017. She frequently participates as an in-house speaker for staff orientation and hospital health events i.e. World Kidney Day, Pink October, World Heart Day, antenatal workshop & etc. She was also invited as guest speaker for corporate clients i.e. Halliburton, Petronas, Shell, Malaysia Airports, American Association of Malaysia, Association of British Women in Malaysia, MBG fruits retailer, Tenaga National Malaysia headquarter, BFM 89.9 radio station, Astro Awani, 8TV Eve's diary, NTV 7 Bella Live and Weekend talk show. She also writes and blogs for magazines and newspaper. Her articles and columms had appeared in the Asia One, New Straits Time, Stars, Nanyang, Sin Chew, China Press, Cari (online news/media), Mingguan Malaysia, Malaysian Women's Weekly, Shape magazine, iSihat, Parentsdojo & etc. Currently, she is in her own private practice.