This is a very good question and it is something a lot of parents ask me. I think it is important to look at this in a holistic way. There are a number of ways that have been proven to be effective.
One of them is to eat together as a family and to make mealtimes relaxed and positive occasions. Children tend to learn from their family members, so it is important to be a good role model. I would highly encourage the parent to eat all different types of foods, especially the fruit and the vegetable that you mentioned, even trying to include them in a wide variety of textures and different colours, as well. The second approach that I would also encourage is to offer as many foods on a daily basis, as you can.
There are 5 main food groups. These are the carbohydrates, which are your bread, rice, potatoes, starchy-based products and pastas. Fruit and vegetables. Dairy products like cheese, milk and yoghurt. Your protein; meat, fish and eggs and extra food like chocolate cake and biscuits in moderation. I think if we aim to offer a type from each of these food groups during the day, that way your child is more likely to able to get the nutrients and benefits from these foods. I think it is important to focus on 3 meals a day and 2 to 3 snacks, so that way, this is optimizing the possibility of getting fruits and vegetables.
In terms of examples that can be useful, like I said, serving broccoli on a plate might not be the most appealing thing for a child. I think it is important to make it fun and make them involved, as well. Some ideas would be veggie sticks; you could cut them up into different shapes. You can use them with a dip. You can use cherry tomatoes in a sandwich. Foods, like pancakes and ice cream, as they are extra foods, can still be served with pieces of fruit or frozen fruit just to optimise their fruit intake. Other ideas are homemade muffins; you can add little bits of dried fruit in them. Even you can try disguising vegetables in their meals, whether in a mash, putting a little bit of sweet potato, or in a casserole or a stir fry. A lot of children, if it is actually mixed do not feel like it is hard to eat or they do not realise they're eating it.
I think it is also important to emphasise not to force-feed. Like I was mentioning before, it is quite natural to feel frustrated but unfortunately force-feeding can actually make it worse. Children can actually feel a bit more anxious around food and might end up eating less. I would say just to be patient and to offer the food into small portions and like I said before, try different ways of incorporating them.
Lastly I think another thing that can work to get children to try and eat foods would be to look at rewards and also definitely encouragement and praise when they have tried something new. As a dietitian, I am really for non-food related rewards. I think we do not want to set them up to bad habits, so I think looking at rewards such as reading a book to your child, playing with them for a period of time, giving them a choice of the next family DVD, or anything that they really would enjoy or benefit from. Over time a lot of praise and encouragement would lead to your child experimenting with different foods, and fruit and vegetables.
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