We all know that fruit and vegetables are good for us, packed as they are with fibre and other vital nutrients, and that we should eat lots and lots of them.
In fact, thanks to a certain well-promoted Government guideline, it's common knowledge that five-a-day is the prescribed amount.
However, if your child is a fussy eater who'd rather eat bogies than broccoli, you'll know just much of a challenge that can seem. So how do you rise to it?
Hollie Smith, co-author of Dealing with Difficult Eaters (published 25th May by Crimson Publishing) has some advice on how to get them eating them good stuff.
Read on for Hollie's tips.
● Chuck handfuls of fruit and veg into sauces and soups whenever you have the chance, then blend finely to make sure they're well hidden
You can sneak in a multitude of goodness in this way, but one word of warning: children can be pretty affronted when lied to by their parents, so if they do rumble you, don't compound the fib by denying your dirty deed. They might come to distrust everything else you put in front of them.
● Try distraction tactics
If you slide a plateful of chopped raw veg under their noses whilst they're watching television, you may just find they much their way through it without really realising – especially if you do so before a meal when they're hungry.
The usual no-snacking rules can be lifted where veg is concerned. And although eating in front of the telly isn't generally to be encouraged, sometimes needs must!
● Don't be afraid to add something less healthy to the equation if it helps boost the appeal of fruit or veg
The possibilities are endless, but examples include stewed apples served with a yummy crumble topping and a dollop of ice cream, courgettes dipped in milk and flour and shallow fried in olive oil, strawberries dipped in chocolate, and leeks served in a creamy, cheese sauce.
Although all high-fat options, kids have higher energy needs and therefore more scope than we adults to indulge in this sort of thing (unless they have a weight problem, in which case you should take the advice of your GP).
● Grow your own – and get them to help
Kids usually love to sample the fruits of their own labour! If you don't have green fingers, or much of a garden, take them to the nearest Pick-Your-Own farm.
● Don't fret
The worst thing you can do with a fussy eater is to make a fuss. Offer fruit and vegetables regularly and as a matter of course, but don't make a big deal of it when it's refused. You may be reassured to know that, for kids, a 'portion' is probably less than you think.
For instance, just two slices of melon; 4 dried apricots, half a banana, ten grapes; two cauliflower florets, four slices of cucumber, three cherry tomatoes – all of these each count as a portion for the average five to seven year old (and even less will suffice for the under-fours.)
● Finally, do set a good example
Well, it's obvious, isn't it? Eat your greens, and there's far more chance your kids will, too.
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