Why Our Kids Love Fruit & Vegetables and How Yours Can Too

We get stopped a lot when we're out and about, and I'm never sure if this is normal for all families or not.  Sometimes it's because we have more than two kids, sometimes it's to comment on how beautiful they are or how polite and helpful, sometimes to ask why they don't go to school, but most often to commend the girls on their eating healthily.

They walk round the supermarket munching on apples or carrots (from a pre-weighed bag, don't worry), and think a great snack is a banana, pot of crudités or tub of fruit, just as much as a biscuit or some sweets.  People young and old love this, and when they see them piling produce into the trolley or laying out a healthy picnic or snack, they often stop to comment.  The girls think this is hilarious, of course.  Why wouldn't they be eating these delicious foods?  But I do get that their approach is maybe unusual, and not all kids do this.  Here's why I think our girls have turned out this way:

Baby-led Weaning

I breastfed all three until well into toddlerhood, so their early forays into food were pressure-free and baby-led.  All of them started helping themselves from our plates when they were around 6-7 months, and we then started giving them their own portions of what was on our plates.  They tried everything.  For breakfast they had berries and fruit, for lunch they had plates of raw vegetables, and for dinner they had cooked and/or raw veggies.

A recent snack tray for two, they slightly love carrots!

Leave Them To It

Five times a day, from babyhood to now, the girls are presented with a range of food. They eat whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want (kitchen table or sitting room, even the hall, cutlery optional) with no faces, no 'oh just try it', no 'if you eat this you can have that' etc etc. The only condition we have now they are older is that if you help yourself to something from a buffet or a dish at the table, you only take what you will eat. You can always come back for more.

All Food Has the Same Value

There are no 'good' or 'bad' foods, the word 'treat' is never used (I'm not sure they'd even know what it means!), and nothing is prioritised over anything else or talked about pejoratively.  Neither have they ever heard the words 'fattening', 'unhealthy' or 'diet' from us.  The only thing they have picked up, probably from their beloved Jamie Oliver Superfoods cookery shows, is that fruit and vegetables are the healthiest foods for your body.  This means that they see a snack tray with lots of fruit and a few biscuits on it and enjoy both with equal relish.

Provide Variety

Every mealtime and snack, we provide something we know each of them will eat and other items or dishes that they may not.  It's all presented at the table or on the side buffet-style and everyone helps themselves.  Try it.  At first they may go for the same old same old, but equally they may astound you with what they do try without a little voice sitting on their shoulder directing them.  Just step back and be quiet!  And keep serving lots of vegetables and fruit, every meal, every day.

Cavolo nero is currently the 3 year old's favourite thing

It Doesn't Matter

They don't want to try it?  So what.  They haven't eat much this meal?  So what.  They've only eat the same three things for two days?  So what.  No obvious protein today?  So what.  It doesn't matter.  It's only food, and no human is going to let themselves starve to death.  They will eat, what they want, when they want to.  Small people are surprisingly adept at listening to their bodies, given the chance to do so.  So no comments, no sighs, no looks, no tuts as you clear the half-eaten plates, nothing.

(If you have restricted food in the past and then give them freedom, yes they may just eat junk.  But after a few days, their body will tell them to eat properly again.  Just step back and let it happen.)

Do your kids enjoy fruit and vegetables?

Here are some ideas of how to get kids to eat more fruit and vegetables.

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