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Hints & Tips by Judy Reith, Parenting Coach

Mealtimes - Golden moments

Judy ReithFinding the time, energy and imagination to encourage your kids to make healthy food choices can seem like a big task at times for today's parents. But with a little effort and creativity it can be done. The main thing is not to give up, don't give in.

Have meals around the table as often as you can as a family, even if it's just a snack or a drink. It's a time to talk about what's new in your child's world, be heard, eat good food together and altogether create memories with those you love most. You'll probably be surprised at how your snacks and meals become healthier if you eat together.

But it doesn't just have to be around dinner time - enjoying a healthy snack with your child, even if just for 10 minutes, means you can get some one-on-one time with them just to chat. Remember, it shouldn't be a time for lectures and arguments, and try and make sure you all eat the same thing. You are a family not a café!

Offering a variety of veg to younger children can mean they are much more likely to accept different foods later on in life. So from the start, be as creative as you can be in what you offer your kids. Think about creative fun names for everyday vegetables see below for some examples. It might take several attempts to get children used to new tastes, but giving up is not the answer. Small amounts served in different ways can help, and a smile from you will go a long way, too.

Food Fun

With older kids it's still important to make food fun and get them involved, especially when it comes to eating vegetables. Encourage them to wash, chop and serve, especially colourful vegetables and introduce a sauce or a dip to make it more interesting. Try Dairylea Dunk Pots made with milk and cheese and contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

For the younger children it's easy to make traffic lights out of peppers, train tracks out of cucumbers and sun rays out of carrot sticks - let their imagination run riot, and don't worry about being too perfect!

The Treat Factor

Treats are great, but limit them so they will always be a treat! Dinner in front of the TV can be fun, but not every night. Messy snacking can be fun but not every day! Many parenting experts say we should never use food as a way to get our kids to love us. They love you anyway. Show your love with hugs and kisses or just time, not a box of doughnuts.

Struggling to get you kids to eat veg? Use a bit of lateral thinking!

The makers of Dairylea have launched new Dairylea Dunk Pots as a great way for parents to encourage children to increase their vegetable intake.

Made with cheese and milk, with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives added, Dairylea Dunk Pots are available nationwide in major supermarkets.


No. Well how about Sunshine Drops, Light Sabres or Fairy Houses?

They certainly don't sound as magical when you call them by their real names - sweetcorn, parsnips and mushrooms, but these are the lengths that parents up and down the country are going to in a bid to get their children eating veg.

Ten Re-branded Vegetables

  Broccoli : Miniature trees
  Mashed Potatoes : Clouds
  Mushrooms : Fairy Houses
  Sweet corn : Sunshine drops
  Tomatoes : Moonsquirters
  Brussel Sprouts : Mini Footballs
  Cauliflower : Little White Trees
  Peas : Footballs for Lego people
  Carrots : Witches Noses
  Parsnip Sticks : Light Sabres

Parents are serving Sunshine Drops, Moonsquirters and Miniature Trees in a bid to get kids eating veg

  • Celery tops poll of least loved veg in the Midlands whilst Broccoli is the biggest turn-off in London
  • One in five children in the North West blame school dinners on their hatred of veg
  • Strictly come veg: one in three parents in the North East insist their children stay at the table until they've eaten all the veg, making them the strictest parents in the country
  • Fancy a bowl of moonsquirters and sunshine drops? Parents in Northern Ireland top poll of vegetable re-branders
  • Eat your greens to become a superhero: Half of parents in Scotland tell kids their veg contains magic powers
  • Less than 1 in 3 parents in Yorkshire give children veg as a snack or in their lunchbox everyday

Every parent knows that getting children to eat vegetables can sometimes be challenging, however research suggests parents are becoming increasingly imaginative - if not always truthful - to tempt their Children to eat up. So says the findings of a survey from the makers of Dairylea Dunk Pots.

Over half of the parents questioned (52 per cent) have claimed that every day veg contains magic powers or super strength in a bid to get their children to eat it.

A group of moonsquirters
hangiing out together

With 65 per cent of children turning up their noses at vegetables because of their taste, texture or smell, parents today have admitted to employing a wide range of tactics to encourage them to eat their greens. 'Re-branding' vegetables with far-fetched names is a common theme with some of the imaginatively used pseudonyms including mini footballs (sprouts), sunshine drops (sweet corn), moonsquirters (tomatoes) and clouds (mashed potatoes).

Yet despite increased creativity in the home, less than one in five (18 per cent) parents insist that their child stays at the table until they have finished their plate, a stark contrast to their own childhood experiences where more than three-quarters (84 per cent) had no choice when it came to eating the greens on their plate. Parents in the North East are the strictest with nearly a third (30 per cent) insisting their kids remain seated until they've finished their food, compared to less than one in ten in Scotland (8 per cent).

Interestingly just over a third (37 per cent) of youngsters under the age of 12 are given vegetables as a snack or in their lunchboxes everyday.

Nearly three-quarters of parents surveyed (73.8 per cent) believe celebrity role models, cartoon characters and sportspeople have the greatest influence on their children when it comes to eating veg.

Another technique is simply to allow children to choose what veg they want and how they want to eat it. Nearly three-quarters of parents surveyed (73 per cent) encourage their kids to eat vegetables by adding a sauce, or dunking them in a child-friendly dip such as soft cheese. A quarter (24 per cent) of children in the East of England choose the dipping option making them the biggest dunkers in the country, with youngsters in London coming a close second (22 per cent).

"A child's dislike of vegetables is often emotional not rational," says parenting coach Judy Reith, "so the more creative or enthusiastic parents can be with the food on the plate the more responsive the child. Encourage your kids to dunk vegetables in other foods, like houmous or cream cheese as it's a lovely interactive way to make meal times more fun."

Dr Rana Conway, independent nutritionist, adds: "It is good to see parents turning away from the 'stay until you clear your plate' tactic, as this is never going to make kids love vegetables."

She continues: "We know most kids don't get their five-a-day, but the best way to get them eating more vegetables is to have family meals. You can also get them involved in growing vegetables, choosing them in the shops, or planning a meal and helping to cook."

* All statistics are taken from the research carried out online by Opinion Matters for the makers of Dairylea Dunk Pots between 16th July 2009 and 27th July 2009 amongst a nationally representative sample of 1,145 UK parents of five to twelve year olds

Dairylea Dunk Pots
Made with cheese and milk, with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives added, Dairylea Dunk Pots are available nationwide in major supermarkets

Email Hub-UK : info@hub-uk.com