5 ways to include seasonal foods in your child’s diet
Planning a nutritious meal or diet plan for your child is the most important concern for a parent. Ensuring that they receive the right nutrients and correct doses of vitamins, minerals, fibres, proteins and what not is challenging. The most obvious yet elusive route to achieve this is by introducing them to seasonal foods. But that is often easier said than done! Bringing your child to eat the seasonal fruits and vegetables may be tricky when they are so easily lured by a well-packaged sugar-filled treat. A good starting point is sharing the benefits of eating seasonal foods with your child. A gentle reminder that their favourite sailor Popeye gets his energy from a can of spinach is an eternal catch to get them on board!
Benefits of eating seasonal foods
- Rich in nutrition
In-season fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients. A freshly plucked peach from a tree will be a healthy juicy treat as opposed to its canned, dried counterpart available during the off-season.
- Fresh and flavourful
Fruits and vegetables in season are fresh, thus rich in flavour. The melons during summer will refresh and energise your child instantly and taste much better than the winter produce. The reverse is the case with winter fruits like strawberries, litchis and peaches.
- Available in plenty
The availability of seasonal foods in plenty allows you to pick and choose from the best produce. You could also use this as an opportunity to introduce your child to the local farmers market.
- Easy on the pocket
The abundance of seasonal fruits and vegetables in the market allows you to buy them at a reasonable price. It is definitely one of those situations where you feel you got your money’s worth.
How to get your child to eat seasonal foods
- Tell them interesting stories and facts about that specific food
Engage your child by sharing the story of the fruit or vegetable that you would like them to eat. For example, introducing mangoes in summer by telling about the existence of 1500 varieties of the fruit in India is a great way to start. You could get them curious to try the different varieties and simultaneously ascertain that they are getting the required nutrition.
- Make it a tasty dish
Convert the specific fruit or vegetable into a yummy dish. Fresh apples can be converted into a pie or a cake. The broccoli can be steamed and served with cheese. Make alterations to their favourite foods by adding in the seasonal foods. Pancakes with blueberries or a jackfruit dosa are a few more ideas that you could try.
- Visit the local farmers market or farm
Taking your child for a visit to a local market or farm will help them connect with how the food is produced. It will improve their knowledge about seasonal foods and make them appreciate the effort that goes into the process of making it accessible to them. Their dinner time conversation time could be about sharing their experience at the market and what they learnt about the food on the plate.
- Make-believe playtime
Get your child to dress up as a fruit and have them recite the benefits or make a funny poem is a fun activity to get them engaged. Their snack time could become make-believe scenarios like ‘Walk with the Papa ya’ while they munch on the delicious fruit or ‘Carrot cartoon goes crazy’ when they have to eat those crunchy orange sticks. Some other interesting scenarios could be ‘saving little broccoli men from a sea of cheese’ or ‘treasure hunt in a vegetable roast’ or ‘run a race with the beans.’
- Plant their own mini garden
Getting children to plant the seeds of the seasonal fruits and allowing them to nurture the plants is a great way to increase their affinity towards seasonal foods. They’d love the experience of growing and eating their hard-earned fruits or vegetables. This could be a small experiment in your balcony or in the compound of your house.
Small measures like these can go a long way when it comes to adopting a healthy, wholesome diet for children. A lifestyle with seasonal food habits will not only provide great nutrition but also help them make better food choices too.
Mariam Taqui Ali (pro tip: the middle name is pronounced tuh-key)
A Word slayer, pluviophile, baker, traveller; among other things, knows the correct usage of punctuation and the difference between your and you’re.
She spent some time (read a lot of time) writing, editing and keeping track of word counts. Her trysts with writing and editing has led her to interact with experts from diverse industries like healthcare, wellness, HR, business and technology. Having experienced all that, she continues her professional explorations, to learn, to grow and to be a value add.
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