I’ve posted so many brilliant tips about encouraging healthy eating in kids, and shared lots of advice from experts about how to get children to eat their greens.
But what about going to the source, so to speak, and teaching kids not only how to plant their own greens, but also, where fruit and vegetables come from.
The premise is that if children take the time to understand all the work and effort it takes to put food on their plates they are more likely to eat it. I see this in my toddler who has always been a good fruit and veggie eater, is very excited about growing a pumpkin and carrots at his dad, and beans and tomatoes at me. This has led to not only a curiosity about where and how things are grown, but also more enthusiasm to eat what he’s grown, or seen growing.
Astrid Anderson, a distributor of Philips AVENT, says that planting a veggie garden, by way of example, is an excellent way to get kids involved in mealtimes. “If they grow their own food, they are more likely to eat it. It’s clear that the way we go about introducing our little ones to the varied and delicious world of food, is key to their approach to their diets well into adulthood.”
Planting a vegetable or even simply a herb garden allows children to learn where their greens come from and how they grow. Slava De Gouveia, a Joburg-based dietitian recommends:
“Allow your child to water the patch themselves and even pull out weeds. This teaches them responsibility and ownership. When the time comes, let your child pick and wash the fruit, vegetables or herbs to be used in the meal preparation and involve your child as much as possible.”
“If planting a garden is not possible, take your child out on family outings to nearby farms or at the very least, fresh food markets. Don’t let the golden opportunity of getting children involved in your mealtimes pass you by. If food is the language of love, your children will love getting involved in family mealtimes.”
“At this age, children want to eat what everyone around them is enjoying, so they may often reach out and grab food. This is the perfect opportunity for parents to set a good example by ensuring that what is on their plates and on the dinner table is healthy.
By providing your little one with fun and interactive utensils, bowls and plates such as the Philips AVENT mealtime set with an anti-slip base and an easy to grip knife and deep scoop spoon and fork, toddlers will look forward to serving themselves.”
In addition, Slava recommends allowing children to feed themselves. While this may be the messier alternative it allows them independence. “Allow children to dish up for themselves, offer a variety of healthy foods like vegetables, lean protein rich foods and whole grain starches and let your child choose what he wants to eat. Do not panic if they do not dish up a little bit of everything. At this age, their eating habits are erratic but they balance out over the course of the week.”
For more tips and recipes and Philips AVENT product info, go to their website.