As a specialist in family health I work with a lot of parents and if there’s one question that comes up in my clinic again and again, it’s…
“How can I get my children to eat more fruit?”
So many mums and dads struggle to get their children to eat fruit, either as a snack or dessert. Although the UK Department of Health keep telling us about the importance of five, seven or even ten a day (although this should be mostly vegetables), when your child refuses to eat fruit this can feel like a continual battle.
So here are my 10 tried and tested ways of tempting your children back to the fruit bowl instead of unhealthy desserts and snacks… and all the health benefits it provides:
1. Keep fruit within easy reach
Shen a child is hungry they choose the first appealing thing they lay eyes on. So keep the fruit bowl out, stocked with a wide variety of easy-to-eat fresh fruit. In the summer, you can put a mixed berry bowl on the table and remember to keep sugary treats away so they aren’t tempted in the wrong direction.
2. Hide the fruit
Sneak fruit into cooking and baking. Grated apples, pears, mashed bananas, dried fruit or orange zest can easily be added to muffins, cakes and cookies. My children just love my recipe for Spiced Apple Chocolate Cake!
3. Go shopping for fruit together
Give your child a small shopping basket and allow them to choose the fruit they like. This way they’re more likely to eat it when you get home. Or in the summer go and pick your own and freeze some of the berries for the winter months.
4. Create a reward chart
Young children from about 3 years of age respond really well to reward charts. Use brightly coloured stickers of fruit and at the end of each day give them a reward such as a gold star or 20p for reaching their fruit target.
5. Give fruit as a dessert
It’s easy to make fruity desserts without much sugar. Cut the sugar by a third in apple and berry crumbles, use yoghurt to make fruit trifles instead of sweet custard, fill pancakes with fruit, stew apples or pears and stir into rice pudding, or liquidise berries with a splash of honey to top ice-cream or yoghurt.
6. Peel and chop for easy eating
You’ll be surprised at how quickly kids will eat fruit that’s prepared for them. Peeled and segmented orange, chopped banana or sliced apple go down really well.
7. Create fruity treats
Fruit can easily be made into a treat if you use your imagination. Dip strawberries in dark chocolate, make fruit kebabs with a delicious sauce or mango drizzled with honey.
8. Fruit smoothies
Most children love smoothies and any fruit will do. Just add peeled fruit and water to a blender, maybe a splash of honey or a little yoghurt to thicken it up.
9. Fruit ice-cream or sorbet
Blend up some berries with plain yoghurt and a drizzle of honey and freeze, or you can turn fruit juice into sorbet or ice lollies. You can even make fresh orange juice ice cubes to add to drinks in the summer. Try the recipe below to cool kids down on a hot day.
Home-made Blueberry Ice Cream
Possibly every child’s favourite treat. It’s certainly a hit in my home!
- A large handful of frozen blueberries
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- A dash of almond milk or coconut milk, or some plain yoghurt or silken tofu for extra creaminess.
Put the ingredients in a food processor. Blend until you get ice-cream consistency. It may jump around a bit initially, but keep going, eventually it will go creamy. It may help to add a little more liquid, and give it a scrape down the sides.
Fancy a different flavour? Try frozen raspberries, strawberries or even a frozen banana!
10. Lead by example!
Finally, you can’t expect your children to prefer fruit if you’re eating sweet snacks and chocolate in front of them. Children pick up their eating habits from parents so if you’re eating an apple, they’re more likely to do the same.
Are you struggling with your family nutrition?
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