Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How To Encourage Kids To Eat Fruits and Vegetables

My daughter did not inherit my passion for food and eating. Eating was almost like a chore for her. Something that she just had to do right to impress the adults. But it never seemed to have appealed to her.

I trained her early to love eating. Especially eating food that is of the healthy nature. Although I did fail miserably on breastfeeding, I made sure I compensated that when it was time for her to eat solids. I painstakingly prepared her meals from scratch and if my schedule as a working momma doesn't permit me to do it myself, I made sure I supervise the yaya when she does it. Maia never tasted artificial toddler food like Cerelac or Gerber. And I'm really proud to say that my daughter never had an attraction towards anything salty or sweet. Yes, junk food was not something that she craved for. 

Despite this, Maia still didn't each as much as I'd wished her to. Although she didn't demand for a particular taste from food, she was very picky when it came to texture so it was very difficult for us to make her eat the green, leafy ones. And we all know that those were the ones considered to be most nutritious. Maia would gag each time a malunggay leaf would get stuck in her throat. She would refuse to eat each time a thin pechay leaf would touch her tounge. She would complain non-stop when a cabbage leaf would get stuck in teeth. Eventually, she was able to distinguish the food that made her gag that the mere sight of them would lock her jaw up and force us to give up trying to make her eat them.

Fruits were also another thing that she didn't develop a loving, passionate relationship with. I tried introducing her to every local fruit available but her liking for these things were somehow also seasonal. There was a time she really liked melons but now she refused to eat them. Then she moved on to grapes. Then to bananas. Then that was it. She would take a bite of an apple, a spoonful of fresh mango, a segment of an orange, a tiny bit of a watermelon or a small slice of a pineapple but she never got to the point of wanting them which was what I was aiming for. 

All these were always a major concern that I'd bring up to the pedia during our well-baby check ups. One solution that we came up with was to wean her off formula milk. That trick somehow worked. Her solid intake definitely improved after we weaned off formula milk but still, I'd like to see her eat more of the greens and fruits.

I could say that Maia's picky eating has been one of the biggest issues we've encountered raising a toddler. But thankfully there has been drastic improvement in the last 6 months. So what were the tricks that led us to somehow succeed in making her eat more? 

1. Weaning off formula and the bottle. As our Pedia would say, as soon as your kid turns one, formula should not be her main source of nourishment anymore. She should really be eating more solids rather than stay dependent on formula. I will make a wrote separate post of this experience but we were able to successfully wean Maia off formula and the feeding bottle at 26 months.

2. Blender and Popsies. We would puree ripened fruits and freeze them into popsicles. They became an instant hit to our toddler. We also became creative. We came up with frozen Atis, Papaya and Pineapple popsicles. I'll try making guyabano popsicles next.
Homemade Avocado Ice Cream
3. Mix them up. Chopping the fruits and mixing them unto her favorite yoghurt or rolled oats. 

4. Sneak in the veggies. We usually mince the veggies and greens and saute them with a little bit of diced chicken or ground meat. Egg omelets and fritatas are also a fun way to sneak in your veggies.
Eggs + Spinach
5. Serve fruits during pretend plays. Just this morning, I successfully got her to eat 10 pcs of grapes and a big banana by encouraging her to feed these fruits to her stuffed toys with whom she was throwing a birthday party for. Each time she'd attempt to feed the toys, she take a bite herself. In no time, she got to finish the fruits that I served to her. 
She really likes feeding this monkey!
6. Bring color to your menu. In our case, we always try to put a variety of colors into our sauteed veggie dish so we can provide some distraction to our picky customer. For example there would be: red (bell peppers), orange (carrots), green (brocolli, cabbage or sayote) and yellow (sweet corn). She always has great fun identifying all the colors she sees on her plate.

7. Be consistent with the taste. We don't play with the taste when it came to Maia's food. We always try to replicate the taste of every dish that we know she's inclined to eat more of. We don't include vegetables that would alter the taste so we can always get her excited when we tell her what's on the menu for the day.

8. Go for natural. When we were introducing Maia to solids, we never seasoned her food. She used to favor the taste of carrots and brocolli then so to improve the taste I'd just saute white onions before adding in the minced veggies to make it sweeter and give make it more flavorful.

9. Keep a schedule. We discovered that Maia is hungriest at around 8, 11/12, 4 so we serve her breakfast, lunch and dinner around that time. Even on weekends or when we're out, we try to stick to that so we won't mess up her appetite. We usually just give her crackers or one or two pieces of cookies and a bottle of yakult or yoghurt drink for snacks.

So far, these are the tricks that got us through. This is a continuing struggle for us but I'm just really happy that she's gaining weight and I could see that she's been eating more. Some days when our convincing powers won't work, I try to supplement her meals with one malunggay capsule a day. I break the cap and mix the contents into a bottle a yakult. Fortunately for me she's never rejected my concoction and would sometimes even remind me when I forget to add the malunggay to her yakult. :)

And when all else fails, I just always remind her that fruits and veggies will keep the big C away.


Anonymous said...

i love this post! soooo timely! thanks sis! :)

we have a big issue on LC's weight. he's under weight monitoring right now :( really hoping he'll eat more... will do a lot of the things you've done to encourage him to eat more and gain the needed pounds.

pyxxie0703 said...

You're welcome sis! How old is LC? For a year I think we've been really struggling with weight gain. Maia was just around the 15-25th percentile on her age group. But since September she's moved to the 50-75th percentile. I hope it remains that way na.

mommymamarat said...

he's 22months and in the 10th percentile... pedia said, pagbumaba pa under nourish na sya. naloloka na ata ako pakainin sya at pilitin. parang forced feeding na nga kami lately. :(

pyxxie0703 said...

awwww i feel you. i was like that too when i had feeding issues with maia. are you bfeeding? keep trying lang sis baka din it's just a phase (i guess a lot of kids really go thru the picky eating phase) does he like peanut butter? high fat content daw un sabi pedia maganda daw include sa diet ng kid pag medyo payat.

Anonymous said...

Still breastfeeding sis. I do hope it's just a phase... Fave nya peanut butter! Kung pwede nga lang yun lagi ipakin. hay :)

Good luck to us, sis! kaya natin to :)

Anonymous said...

Nakalimutan ko isama sa previous comment... I just posted about a no-fail trick that currently works for us now. =)

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