Fruits offer a wide range of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. But more often than not, children are found saying no to fruits frequently. What do we do? We bring to you these simple tips that will help increase fruit intake in their daily diet.
1) Keep fruits available:
Nothing can beat the wholesomeness of a fruit eaten as it is. Best way to ensure this is to keep fruits in a bowl/platter visible and accessible to your little one. So if they feel hungry in between meals, they can grab a fruit. Keep a variety to entice the child. For eg: in a platter place an orange, a banana, an apple, a pear and maybe some more such as a whole papaya etc. This will make it attractive to the child and he can pick and choose.
2) Present innovatively:
Sometimes presentation makes all the difference. Roll out small balls of different coloured fruits with the help of ice cream scooper. Fill a bowl with these balls and offer them at snack times to your little ones. Suggested fruits are fleshy ones like papaya, mango, watermelon, cantaloupe etc.
3) Set fruit rules in the house:
Breakfast is the ideal time to have a fruit. This is the time when after a long fast of 8 hours, the body is raring to absorb some nutrition and what better than fruit nutrition? Make it a rule that during breakfast, each plate must have a fruit or a piece of fruit in it, including yours. Or include fruit in breakfast menu. Chopped/cooked fruits (apple, strawberries, banana, cherries, blue berries) can be added to porridges like oats, dalia or any ready to eat breakfast cereal. One can make a pancake and add chopped fruit to it and roll it. Children would like this fruity variation in the mornings.
4) Sneak in fruits:
Smoothies of different fruits along with yogurt/milk/soymilk and nuts can be made for breakfast times or evenings. Fruits like banana, strawberries, blue berries, kiwis, peaches, mango or any fruit your little one prefers can be used.
5) Use fruit for cooking:
Fruits can also be made part of our daily cooked meals. You can add these to pizza toppings or to their favourite pasta along with veggies. You can use fruits like pineapple, cherries, kiwis, peaches, papaya etc. These fruits or any fruit can also be added to sandwiches or kathi rolls.
6) Give a fruity treat:
If your child refuses to take fresh fruit juice/ eat one whole, you can freeze the juice of fruit in ice trays. Put these to flavor their water. Alternatively, crush the ice and make an ice candy/lolly and pour freshly squeezed fruit juice to flavor and colour it. Citrus fruits like sweet limes, lemons, oranges or grapefruits can be used for this.
7) Fruity desserts:
If your little one has sweet tooth, then make fruit based desserts like cakes (apple, pine apple, banana, blueberries, strawberries), custards (any seasonal fruit), tarts (kiwi, cherries, pineapple, apple, grapes), real fruit based ice cream/ kulfi made at home (mango, strawberries, litchi, pineapple, blueberries, the list is endless) or kheer (apple, pineapple, sapota,, peaches, pears and of course dried fruits like dates, figs, raisins etc.)
8) For parties:
If you are planning a birthday or dinner party and your dilemma is how to put fruits in menu, you can “barbecue” them along with other regulars. Fruits which can be barbequed are apples, pears, peaches, pineapples, papaya, mangoes, bananas etc. For snacks you may use fruit based dip like apple, mango, blue berries, pineapple, peaches, strawberries can be added to hung curd or salsa.
9) Fruit in the family:
Make fruit a family affair and not just for the child. Remember children learn by example and you are their best role model. So instead of gorging on namkeen and matthis for snack, pull out a fruit and eat it whole. When your child will observe you doing this, chances of him trying one for himself become higher.
10) Start early:
Most experts believe that the food habits you give your child in the first two years stay with him for life. So, start early. Introduce your child to fruits as weaning foods and when he starts on solids and semi solids. Carry whole fruits such as banana or oranges when travelling, going to mall, park etc with the child, instead of biscuits or bread. This will make the child dependant on fruits for hunger. Include a small piece when you can: add pomegranate to his curd in lunch, a piece of mango as a dessert after dinner etc. Be consistent and persistent.
But remember most importantly, the initiative and responsibility has to come from you to encourage your child to eat and accept fruits. Be a role model and eat healthy yourself to kick start the child on the right track.