“No! I want chocolate”, he screams and sends the bowl of fruit toppling. Sounds familiar? It is a familiar battle cry that every parent has heard from their toddler when trying to get them to eat fruits and vegetables.

Toddlers can be notoriously fussy eaters, especially when it comes to eating fruits and vegetables. To them, fruit and vegetables are disgusting. They’d much rather eat sweets, cookies and chocolate. The HPB recommends that toddlers between the ages of 3 to 6 should get 1 serving of fruit and 1 serving of vegetables a day. However, most toddlers do not even get half of this recommended amount.

The nutrients found in fruit and vegetables are important to the healthy developent of a toddler. The fibre ensures a well-functioning digestive system, and the vitamins play an important role in internal bodily processes. Instead of fruit and vegetables, toddlers are stuffing themselves with sweets, cookies and chocolates. Another draw would be fast food.

Fast food has a great appeal among toddlers. The easy to eat meals coupled with attractive packaging is indeed a draw. The icing on the proverbial cake would be “Happy Meals”, where fun toys are offered with every meal purchase. This fuels toddlers to eat fast food whenever they are out with their parents so they can collect all the toys in the set, or add more toys to their toy chest at home.

Parents should do their level best to ensure that toddlers get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables regularly. To do so, there are some tactics that parents can employ. Parents could make a dish of vegetables or a bowl of fruit more appetising by ensuring that there are a variety of colours on display. Instead of just green leafy vegetables, throw in some carrots and yellow capsicums. Why simply serve your child a red apple, when you could add in some banana chunks and kiwi! The possibilities are endless!

Another way to get your child to eat more vegetables, would be to prepare them with meat. A simple stir fry with chicken and capsicum would give your toddler an additional protein boost! Fruit can be paired with healthy dips like low fat peanut butter to add some extra flavour and texture that might appeal to the child!

Last but not least, and perhaps the most important tactic parents should utilise is patience. They should have the patience to not get angry when they child refuses to eat fruits and vegetables. They should offer gentle encouragement, and set the right example by eating fruits and vegetables themselves, just to show their kids that its actually good for you and tastes great too!