As the temperature starts to drop and we head into the season of winter sniffles, it’s more important than ever to support our kids in making healthy eating choices.
As well as boosting immunity, a diet rich in fruit and veg provides a steady stream of energy and micronutrients to support children’s physical and mental development. You may feel like hibernating under a blanket, but the chances are that there will be no slowing down for the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed horde of kids around you.
Incorporating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables into your child’s diet provides significant short and long-term benefits.
Short term benefits:
- Improved mood
- Emotional regulation
- Increased energy
- Enhanced cognitive skills (concentration and memory)
- Brain development
- Improved gut health
- Decreased risk of cardiometabolic disorders
- Improved immunity
Parents everywhere know all too well how childcare and school turn into germ-laden virtual Petri dishes during the cooler months. Aside from cocooning your child in a protective bubble, building up their immune systems through a diet rich in fruit and veg is the next best line of defence. The antioxidant and phytonutrient properties of fruit and vegetables, which you can literally see through their vibrant colours, help us stay healthy during the autumn and winter seasons. They also lessen the severity and duration of any viruses that we pick up. Thankfully, nature provides us with a wealth of seasonal winter immune-supporting fruit and vegetables.
The problem is, while we know children need the protective nutrients of fruit and vegetables in a varied diet, reaching the daily recommended intake is a whole lot easier said than done. If you’re near your wits’ end with your little cherubs repeatedly turning their noses up at your lovingly prepared nutrient-dense family meals, know that you are not alone. According to the National Health Survey, only 1 in 17 Aussie kids aged 2-17 currently meet the health guidelines for daily fruit and vegetable servings.
If mealtime has all too frequently turned into a battle of wills, it’s time to get creative. Here are our top tips on incorporating more fruit and veg into your child’s diet during the winter seasons that will win over even the pickiest of kids.
No parent police are going to come around and tell you off for secretly hiding vegetables in your child’s favourite foods. Popular go-to options include hidden vegetables in sausage rolls, meatballs or spaghetti bolognese.
Juice it up!
When children are sick, the easiest and most efficient way of dosing them up with vitamin C and keeping them hydrated is through vitamin-rich smoothies and juices. Juiced Life has got your back to save time and optimise the goodness. Juiced Life blended juices, cold-pressed juices and smoothies are nutritionist-designed and 100% natural with no added sugar or preservatives, making them perfect for the littlies in your life.
Particularly during the cooler seasons, we like to reach for My Defence, a delicious cold-pressed blend of orange, carrot and ginger. Cold-pressing raw fruit and vegetables ensure the biggest nutritive punch per sip, particularly when you want to boost your intake of heat-sensitive vitamins such as vitamin C.
We recommend alternating between cold-pressed juices and fibre-rich smoothies and blended juices to get the best of both worlds. My Morning Start, which is a delicious blend of apple, banana, mango, strawberries and yoghurt, is another favourite high-energy pick-me-up breakfast or anytime smoothie for adults, children and toddlers alike.
The bright and appealing colours are sure to speak to even the fussiest of kids, who will probably not even notice that veggies are included.
It’s important to keep young active children well hydrated, even during the winter months. Offering juices or smoothies, rather than water, is a clever way to boost their vitamin and mineral intake.
Juice and smoothies are also great choices for ‘those kids’ who never seem to stop moving (you’ll know if you have one!). For kids who prefer sips or bites of food on the run, it’s easy to reduce wastage by returning juice to the fridge and coming back to it later on.
Make food fun!
There are simple ways to get creative in the kitchen with your kids and make food fun rather than a source of dread.
- Involve your children in cooking or trips to the greengrocer or farmer’s market.
- Engage in imaginative role-play with different animals eating vegetables.
- Kids are very tactile and love to play with food—chop fruit and veg into fun shapes and encourage them to dunk veggie batons into cream cheese or dips.
- It is a truth universally acknowledged that kids love icy poles… even in the dead of winter! Experiment by making ‘juice pops’ from different smoothies and juices.
Experiment this winter, and don’t be afraid to play with different combinations of fruit and vegetables. Keep your kids thriving all year round!