Lead by example – eat vegetables in front of your children and encourage them to follow your lead. My parents always did this and we have only just recently discovered that all my family aren’t fans of butter beans including my parents – but they used to eat them to encourage myself and my brother and sister to eat a mixture of vegetables.
Find a role model – find out who your children are inspired by and refer to those heroes as being big fruit and vegetable eaters. For me I always remember the Green Giant and Popeye as eating Sweet corn and spinach and I wanted to grow up to be big and strong just like them
Communicate with your child – explain why it’s important to eat your 5- a day to help them really understand how a balanced diet affects mood, body and performance. It’s not just vitamins and minerals that are important but it’s about looking after your whole body from the inside out. Vegetables are good cleansers and good fillers. They also help you control your energy levels which is good for the whole family to get the right highs and lows at the right time
Encourage inquisitiveness – inspire your children to try new types of vegetables. Vegetables come in many different shapes, sizes and colours now and are much more interesting that when I was a child. I remember that as a child my mother would take us around the supermarket and ask us to identify the vegetables to keep us interested. It was considered a game but it was really very clever. I was always fascinated with the purple vegetables
Experiment with taste and texture – fresh raw vegetables taste different to cooked vegetables. Just because they don’t like cooked vegetables doesn’t mean they won’t eat them raw
Get children involved – you don’t have to start with cooking. Why not go back to the field and ‘pick your own’ to encourage them to cook and prepare the meals with you
Be portion savvy – present vegetables in bite sized portions. By putting 10 small bite sized pieces of vegetable on a child’s plate it is less daunting than a heap which could put them off
Remember you are the adult – encourage choice but at the end of the day you are in charge and need to make sure your children eat the right mix of foods. Use the tactics to encourage them to eat well and live a long healthy life