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How to get children to enjoy eating fruit and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are so important for a good development and a healthy growth that children should eat them as soon as they switch to solid foods, but as they grow up it gets more difficult to make them eat tomatoes, salads, green beans, pears and peaches. Is there a way to make children appreciate and eat all kinds of fruit and vegetables?

Here is a practical guide, written in collaboration with professor Giorgio Donegani, food technology expert and President of Food Education Italy, as well as member of the Supervision Committee for the Fruitylife - "Healthy and safe Fruit and Vegetables" project, an information and education campaign targeted at consumers for the health and safety of fresh, European fruit and vegetable products, promoted by Alimos Alimenta la Salute with the support of the European Union and the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policy.

1. Set a Good Example! Seeing mom and dad eating fruit and vegetables every day, several times a day, is the best way to encourage children to try these foods and learn to enjoy them. How can they believe an adult who tells them to eat fruit and vegetables and not only doesn’t eat them themselves, but looks disappointed when they are served? It is a negative message to avoid in every way.

“Children learn by imitation and parents are their most important role models- says professor Donegani.- Several researches show that in families where parents eat regularly fruit and vegetables, children learn to appreciate these important foods from an early age”.

2. Prepare and cook food with them. Involving children in a grown-up task motivates them, makes them feel responsible; helping their parents cooking will be a funny way to get closer to mom and dad and will help them to enjoy what they eat. Let your “mini chefs” help you create a savoury pie using colourful vegetables, kneading potato dumplings, making meatballs with spinach or dicing assorted fruit for a fresh, easy fruit salad.

“Watching, touching, kneading, tasting, smelling…engaging in simple cooking tasks helps children improve their sensorial abilities and it is a fun way to gradually discover and know food” says professor Donegani. “These simple tasks makes them more confident and helps them to create an easy connection with food, overcoming their natural caution”.

3. Offer vegetables with their favourite foods such as pasta, cream cheese, or ground meat mixed with tomato sauce. Even better is serving vegetables when children are more hungry: at the start of a meal, before the other courses. A colourful oil dip served as an appetizer will not only ensure the adequate intake of vitamins, minerals and fibre, but will help to avoid eating too much.

4: Offer fruit and vegetables already washed and cut: When prepared this way, children can eat them raw and with their hands as a mid-morning and afternoon snacks, creating a healthy habit. Allow children to eat with their hands, munching on carrots, cucumbers, fennels, apples, bananas and pears…

“It is better to eat raw fruit and vegetables as often as possible” says professor Donegani. “Raw produce better preserves nutrients, such as vitamin C and mineral salts, that could be depleted during the cooking process”.

5: Use colourful fruit and vegetables with creativity mixing them with other foods to create cheerful and funny dishes

“Today we know that the substances that give fruit and vegetables their colour are beneficial to our health.” says professor Donegani. “Tomatoes owe their bright red colour to lycopene, a potent antioxidant that fights free radicals. The green colour of leafy vegetables comes from chlorophyll, that has an important antianemic and heart invigorating action. Carrots and apricots contain beta-carotene, a substance that the body converts to vitamin A and that gives them their yellow-orange colour. The violet colour of eggplants and blueberries is typical of anthocyanins, pigments that strengthen and stabilize capillary walls, improve blood flow and prevent cardiovascular disease. White vegetables are rich in vitamin C, and sweet corn and courgette owes their bright yellow colour to lutein and zeaxanthin that are strong antioxidants and seem to be effective in preventing degenerative eye conditions”.

To find out practical, tasty and original recipes, that encourage the daily consumption of fruit and vegetables visit On Fruitylife's Facebook page you can find suggestions, tips, funny and original ideas on how to involve children: colourful and appealing images that show how using creativity, imagination and originality is possible to create dishes that look like paintings that will catch the attention both of children and adults.

For more information:
Silvia Pessini
Aries Comunicazione
Tel: +39 02 87188020

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