Why are children not getting a variety of nutritious foods?
At around three years of age, parents start dealing with the very vocal preschool child who tells you what they want to and what they refuse to eat. Unfortunately, what they prefer to eat is not always nutritious, and it may limit your options as a parent, throwing the notion of a nutritious and varied diet out the window. Once children get away with selecting foods that they want at that young age, it is very difficult to change this behaviour as they get older and move into primary school. In dealing with the ‘I won’t eat that’ mindset, parents then choose foods they know their child will enjoy, further limiting the availability of a variety of nutritious foods in the house.
Fruits and vegetables are the foods most likely to be rejected, leading to many children not eating enough of them. Parents may even stock up on a lot of non-nutritious foods that are more widely accepted such as high-fat/salt foods, highly processed meats, and high-sugar drinks. All of these food choices end up making their way into children’s school lunch pack, unknowingly even affecting their ability to learn.
Finding solutions to the problem starts with education, and that is why you are here on this page, reading and learning about nutrition. As you learn about what is good for your child and how to include a variety of nutritious foods in their diet, you are on the right track.
Getting children to eat a variety of nutritious foods
Educate children about nutritious foods and the benefits of fruits and vegetables.
The biggest challenge for all mothers is getting their children to eat fruits and vegetables. Three-year-olds enjoy their newly found independence and are very keen to learn new things. Teach young children about fruits and vegetables by involving them in the shopping experience. Take your time when going through the fruit and veg aisle, showing them new colours, shapes and getting them excited about the taste. Get them to choose a few to try at home and involve them in the preparation, even making up stories about the food to create some excitement. After all the preparation, enjoy the prepared fruits or vegetables with them as a family.
A different approach to education is warranted if your child is in primary school. Teachers in primary school typically promote a culture of continuous learning through reading and experimentation. As a parent, you can continue with these principles at home. For example, natural science teaches them about what plants need to grow. Teaching your child about the importance of vitamins and minerals found in fruit and vegetables is a lesson, for example how electrolytes found in fruits help their muscles recover after a sporting activity. This website contains a lot of important information on nutrition that you can teach your children to encourage the consumption of nutritious foods.