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Increase the Health Odds for Your Children’s School Lunches

Did your mom try to hide veggies in your mashed potatoes when you were a kid? I know mine didn’t. My mom tells me I had one unbendable rule about eating: Don’t let it touch! If everything on my plate wasn’t kept apart, I’d throw a fit. Funny, isn’t it? I always thought so—until my own child broke up with fruits and veggies.

When it was time to move on from baby food, my son forged a beautiful relationship with food. He ate everything I offered, from fruits to veggies to funky flavors. Then he turned four and started preschool. I’m not sure which is to blame; maybe both. All I know is that very quickly he discovered the power of words like yuck and eww and realized that certain textures and colors were unacceptable. Thus began my mission to revive, or at least salvage some semblance of, my formerly non-protesting eater.

Since my youngest is ten months old and my oldest is four years old, I can’t say my tale of picky eating has had a happy ending just yet, but I have figured out a few tricks and fixes in the meantime. One of the most useful things I’ve learned is that my son’s eating habits at school are about the same as at home. How do I know? I asked his teachers. If your picky eater is in school, do the same, and make sure to be specific. Ask which foods are thumbs up and which are thumbs down. Ask if your child tends to follow classmates in refusing foods. This information can be really helpful when mealtime comes at home.

What has surprised me the most is my son’s newfound aversion to fruit. Fruit is sweet, and he loves sweets. What gives? I’d have to get another degree to find the answer. These days, there’s no such thing as giving him an apple or a banana, hoping that natural sugar will be enough appeal. Even strawberries, bright red sugar bombs with cute green tassels, require coaxing. It turns out that feeding a small child fruit is as bewildering as formulating a password.

When what should be a surefire winner turns out to be a losing battle, what’s a parent to do? Get creative and make it fun! I suspect all parents of young children are at least a little tired of hearing those two phrases as the panacea for parenthood hurdles. And while I wish I were here to tell you there’s a different way, there isn’t. So, if we want our darling monsters to get their fill of the vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants in fruit, we have to do what we have to do. Don’t fret! There are actually some super simple ideas out there. Plus, you might find some new ways to enjoy fruit yourself like I have.

Here are five ways to get your picky eater to love fruit again:

  •  Apple Smiles: Slice an apple into eight pieces. Slather each slice with peanut butter on one side, line four of the slices with raisins, and then place the empty slices on top of the raisin slices, making four smiley faces.
  • Banana Boats: Slice a banana lengthwise into two pieces. Drizzle the slices with honey and sprinkle with shredded coconut, chopped nuts or mini chocolate chips.
  •  Slam Dunk: Drizzle cream cheese or plain Greek yogurt with honey or chocolate syrup and offer it as a dip for chopped fruit.
  • Blend, Baby, Blend: When we’re talking fruit, smoothies are a must because they’re so customizable. You can use whatever milk you want, regular or nut-based, and whatever fruits you want. You can even sneak in some veggies—I use spinach. My go-to smoothie for my four-year-old is almond butter, coconut milk, one banana, and a few berries. Frozen fruit is our favorite because it makes more of a milkshake texture.
  •  Gummies: And of course, Juice Plus+ chewables, because what kid doesn’t love gummies? This will ensure they’re getting nutrients they need that they may not be feeding their bodies otherwise.

What are your tricks to getting your children to eat fruits and veggies? Share with us in the comments below!

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