Get Kids to Eat Healthy by Presenting Fruit as ‘Fun’


Most parents of finicky eaters have tried everything to get their picky tots to eat healthy foods. We’ve all heard by now of tried and true tricks like pureeing and sneaking fruits and vegetables into kid-friendly, recipes (i.e: disguising cauliflower in banana bread) à la Jessica Seinfeld’s book Deceptively Delicious. And as Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution is taking America by storm as I type this, the determined Brit is hoping to turn the tide on the childhood obesity epidemic by dismantling junk food culture one chicken nugget at a time. But a recent study is arming parents with new information on how to get their kids to eat healthily, and it’s all in the very simple presentation.

The new secret scattered across the cutting board? Make fruit ‘flashy’ and visually enticing to kids, and they’re more likely to eat up. This may seem like common sense, but in the hectic and harried pace of life today, how many of us really take the time to present food to our children in a fun manner? I’ll even admit, as the mother of an extraordinarily picky toddler, I could do much more in the way of giving her meals more pizazz. I think parents of finicky eaters (self included) get complacent on how and what they offer their kids at mealtime, rotating a few favorites day after bland day.

I am inspired by the simple message behind this study by Dutch researchers who “examined ways to boost fruit consumption in 94 children 4 to 7 years old.” Kids ate nearly twice as much of the fruit that was presented in a visually attractive way (sliced fruits skewered on flagged cocktail sticks and stuck into a watermelon) than the fruit doled out in a ho-hum manner, atop a white paper plate.

The researchers admit that parents would need to employ constant innovation to keep a child’s interest and palate piqued, because kids will eventually get bored with even a flashy presentation if it remains unchanged. But with statistics from the CDC which say that “only around 6 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 18 eat the recommended [daily] amount of fruit,” I think we should all be trying anything we can to up our childrens’ fruit (and veggie!) intake.

Have you converted a picky eater to a food-loving connoisseur? Please share your feeding tips in the comments below!

Image: Basheertome