Getting kids to eat a healthy diet can be a challenge and very frustrating. Around a third of New Zealand children are overweight or obese. This figure rises to 60% of Pacific Island children and 40% of Maori children.
Most Kiwi kids do not eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and there are many reasons why these foods should be highlighted in our daily meals. Promoting a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of chronic disease later in life, including certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
A fun and easy way to get kids interested in their food choices is to get them to ‘Eat The Rainbow’. Simply print out a picture of a rainbow and get them to tick off each colour they eat each day. It also makes it slightly competitive between siblings to see how many colours they can tick off their daily rainbow.
Red can be tomatoes, red apples, chilies (if they are game). Orange can be, obviously, oranges, capsicum, carrots and pumpkin. Yellow could be bananas, squash, lemons and pineapple. Green gives us beans, peas, spinach, granny smith apples and cucumbers.
The end of the rainbow is a little harder. Indigo and Violet is a great challenge for the kids. Try eggplant, grapes, purple cabbage, Maori potatoes and figs.
All kids should be encouraged to be adventurous and try new vegetables and fruits. Many kids need to try a food a few different times before they grow to enjoy the taste.
Taste testing fruits and vegetables raw or prepared using different methods can help kids discover how delicious these foods are. When taste testing with kids, encourage them to talk about the appearance, smell, taste and texture of the food.
The trick to getting your kids to eat more salad? Letting them build their own. And a fun, colorful presentation never hurts, either. Simply get your kids to construct their own salad tower in a smart, funky glass jar filling it with as many colours as they can.
You could even use dessert as a chance to eat the rainbow. In the same way as we eat meat skewers, see if you can fit the rainbow onto a fruit skewer. This is the perfect way to get them into the kitchen and help with assembling their own healthy dessert. It will help entice your kids to eat the whole skewer of fruit. Enjoy the rainbow.