Growing healthy eating habits

THIS year has been declared International Year of Fruits and Vegetables by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

The goal of this is to improve healthy and sustainable food production through innovation and technology, and to reduce food loss and waste.

With the COVID pandemic around the world, the importance of healthy eating, and the role fruit and vegetables play in health, nutrition and food security, has become paramount for people to strengthen and/or maintain their immune systems, plus eating fruit and vegetables daily can prevent chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, as well as to counter micronutrient deficiencies.

Balaklava youngsters,    Eadie and Vinnie Michael, regularly eat fruit and vegetables, inlcuding lots of home-grown by their parents, Bonnie and Lachlan.

“We have fruit trees – including a quince tree which is currently loaded with fruit – along with various vegetables and herbs,” Bonnie said.

“While we didn’t have quite as much produce this year, we usually grow an assortment of herbs, fruit and veggies including tomatoes, onions, carrots, cauli and broccoli – but we need to put up some shade cloth as hot weather tends to scorch the plants,” Bonnie said.

Hint, hint Lachlan!

Home grown produce always tastes better but getting out in the garden also has health benefits too.

Bonnie said getting outside in the garden and in the fresh air is quite therapeutic especially if/when your young children are unsettled.

“Plus children then get involved in gardening too, and enjoy picking and eating fruit straight from the garden!” she said.

While FAO and the World Health Organisation recommend each adult consumes at least 400 grams of fruit and vegetables on a daily basis, how much should children eat?

Children should have two serves of fruit per day, but if they are active and play sport, an extra serve is recommended.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends children aged between one and eight years, consume two to four and a half serves of vegetables each day.

One serve of fruit is around half a cup, which equates to around one medium apple, banana, orange or pear, two small apricots, kiwis or plums, one medium-sized melon wedge, one cup of diced or canned fruit (with no added sugar) or one and a half tablespoons of dried or freeze-dried fruit.

Once your child has had their two-three serves of fruit per day, offer vegetables as a snack instead.

It’s important to ‘encourage’ children to eat fruit and veggies, and develop healthy eating habits for life.

Try making smoothies, fruit sticks (kebabs), iceblocks and fruit/veggie bowls, even veggie pizzas or wraps – and kids they love eating what they cook!

Lead by example, so if you want your child to eat fruit and vegetables, make sure they see you enjoying fruit and vegetables every day too.