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Lots of parents tell us they struggle with getting their children to eat their 5 a day. There's also a lot of confusion about what counts as a portion of fruit or veg. So we've put together this handy guide with all the information you need and 6 handy hints to help your family hit their 5 a day.
Did you know only 8% of children aged 11-18 years meet the 5 a day recommendation? Fruit and vegetables should contribute to around one third of our food intake each day. They are a vital part of a balanced healthy diet because they are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Moreover, eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables may help to protect our health by reducing the risk of disease and some cancers.
What counts as 5 a day?
For children it varies depending on their size and age, but approximately one portion is the amount that they can fit in the palm of their hand. For adults it is 80g for one portion of fruit and vegetables, that’s equal to a medium apple or three heaped tablespoons of veggies like carrots. 150ml of fruit juice also counts towards one of your 5 a day, but bear in mind juice can only count as one portion no matter how much your child drinks.
Get a fruit bowl so fruit is always available for children eat. Have fruit and vegetables pre-prepared for when they come in from school. Children are more likely to eat when it is peeled and cut up, ready to eat. Swap crisps for carrot sticks and sweets for strawberries!
3. Eat the rainbow
Increasing the variety of fruit and vegetables is important as each colour contains different combinations of important nutrients and we need a full range to gain the health benefits.
4. Add 'hidden' vegetables
Try adding small amounts of chopped or grated vegetables into meals. Start small and then increase the volume over time. This is a great way to get your children eating more of their 5 a day without them even realising it. Get started by adding grated carrot or courgette to pasta sauces, stews and curries. You can even try this with fruit, for example adding mashed banana to porridge at breakfast time.
5. Grow your own
Home-grown vegetables often encourages great enthusiasm as children can plant and pick themselves. Start small - it can be as simple as cress seeds grown on cotton wool in empty egg shells.
6. Get them involved
Ask your children if they would like to come food shopping, or get them to help with cooking meals. Children are more likely to be experimental when trying new fruit and vegetables if they have helped to make the meal.