By Suparna Dhar Coach, Author, Trainer and founder of Life’s Canvas
When working with frazzled mums with young children, I often hear “I know we need to get our 5 a day, but how do we actually do it as a family?”
So here are my top tips on helping you and your children get your 5 a day:
A great way to encourage children to eat and try more fruit and vegetables is to get them involved in washing, chopping and cooking. We often make faces, ships and rockets with our salad, fruit and cooked vegetables. Admittedly it is slightly time consuming but children really get engaged in these activities and as a result want to eat what they have created.
Spread it out
Eating fruit and vegetables throughout the day is essential, some favourites of mine are chopping half a banana in with cereal at breakfast, replacing crisps with cucumber, carrot and cherry tomatoes at lunch and serving a bowl of 2/3 steamed vegetables with dinner so that everyone can choose what to eat. I also have lots of dried fruit mixed with nuts and seeds which adds different flavours and textures which we eat as snacks.
You may just find you consume more fruit and vegetables than you think, as a general rule for adults and children one portion of fruit is the amount we can fit into the palm of our hand. So for my 3 year old it would be 5 grapes but for me it would be 10 grapes. A portion size for vegetables is 80 grams which is roughly 3 tablespoons and The Children’s Food Trust recommends half for children. So next time you are preparing fruit and vegetables think of the quantity in terms of your palm and your child’s palm.
Frozen and Tinned
With food prices soaring it is important to remember that frozen, tinned and dried fruit and vegetables can all count towards your 5 a day. Just make sure you buy tinned fruit in 100% natural juice and tinned vegetables with no added salt or sugar. Household favourites of mine are tinned mango and pineapple great for fruit kebabs and frozen peas and tinned sweetcorn to add to casseroles.
Liquid or Solid?
Not made from concentrate juice or smoothies can count as one of your 5 a day, but only one portion counts. Remember to look out for a 5 a day logo and portion indicator and make sure how much equates to one of your five a day. It is easy for children to have a smoothie with their breakfast or as part of a snack. Over the weekend I always make a smoothie with a mixture of fruit and vegetables which is tasty, quick, easy and encourages children to try new flavours such as spinach.
Eat colourful food
When preparing food think of colours which help make meals look interesting, exciting and appetizing. Encourage your children to eat red, green, blue and orange which will help them get a wide variety of vitamins. We often make animal shapes and flowers with fruit and vegetables.
Serving fruit occasionally with frozen yoghurt, ice cream, melted chocolate or vegetables with a cheese sauce can all be ways to encourage children to try new fruit and vegetables. Also children often like the smooth textures of yoghurts and sauces like cauliflower and broccoli in a cheese sauce.
As mum I find using easy, simple and practical ways to encourage myself and my family to eat more fruit and vegetables works best.
Suparna Dhar is a Coach, Author, Trainer and founder of Life’s Canvas. She supports frazzled mums with everyday parenting such as healthy eating, setting routines and boundaries and specialises in supporting mums who have been through domestic abuse. She has self-published Cooking Together – Step by Step guide to Yummy, Healthy and Fun Recipes. She has two children and lives in London.