Live Better
 
 

Storytime for good nutrition

Boost young children’s fruit and vegetable intake through storytime

New research has found a simple way for parents to improve children’s eating habits – using storytime to share positive messages about healthy food.

Most children aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables. In fact, the Australian Health Survey showed only 9% of children aged 4-8 years were meeting the recommended daily amount for their age group.

Positive food education is an important step in getting children excited about healthy foods, helping them develop good habits that will last them into adulthood.

To study the impact fun and engaging food education could have on fruit and vegetable intake, Accredited Practising Dietitian Aloysa Hourigan and her colleagues at Nutrition Australia Queensland ran storytime sessions in libraries and community organisations, using a book they developed called I’m Having a Rainbow for Dinner.

“For children, stories about nutrition need to be engaging and fun.”

They found that after attending these storytime sessions, children ate an average of one extra serve of fruit and vegetables per day.  They were also more willing to try different vegetables and fruit, and parents gained confidence in offering children enough and different varieties.

“We all know how important it is that kids eat well and maintain a healthy weight, but the reality is it’s not always easy. If you’re like most parents, you’ve probably struggled at some point with the problem of how to get your kids to eat their veggies,” Ms Hourigan says.

“Using story time with parents is a positive way to promote healthy eating habits, especially fruit and vegetable intake, and food and health literacy in young children.

“For children, stories about nutrition need to be engaging and fun. Helping kids to become more familiar with and explore the taste and texture of different vegetables and fruit will increase the likelihood that they’ll try more new foods.

“It also reinforces the message that eating enough vegetables and fruit can help children thrive and develop to their full potential.”

This research was presented at the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) National Conference in Perth.

Fruit and vegetables: How much do children need?

The first step to improving children’s eating habits is understanding the current dietary guidelines. The Dietitians Association of Australia shares the following information about the recommended number of serves of vegetables and fruit for children each day:

  • For children aged 2-3 years: 2.5 serves of vegetables, and 1 serve of fruit
  • For children aged 4-8 years: 4.5 serves of vegetables, and 1.5 serves of fruit
  • For children aged 9-11 years: 5 serves of vegetables, and 2 serves of fruit

What does a serve look like?

Vegetables:

  • ½ cup of cooked vegetables (such as broccoli, spinach, carrots or pumpkin)
  • ½ a medium potato
  • 1 cup of salad vegetables
  • ½ cup cooked dried or canned peas, beans or lentils

Fruit:

  • 1 medium piece of fruit (apple, banana, orange, pear)
  • 2 small pieces fruit (apricots, kiwifruit, plums)
  • 1 cup diced or canned fruit (no added sugar).

Find out more at eatforhealth.gov.au

Latest Articles

Food

Teriyaki mixed grain salad recipe

A hearty roast vegetable salad with the goodness of greens.

Read more
Food

Busting popular food myths

The truth about metabolism, the fat burning zone and more.

Read more
Food

Healthy eating made easy

Nutritionist Catherine Saxelby's 10 simple tips.

Read more
Food

Zesty lemon grilled calamari with garlic recipe

Deliciously fresh and light, perfect for summer feasts.

Read more
Food

Fun ways to get kids to eat more vegetables

Child nutritionist Mandy Sacher shares some ideas.

Read more
Food

Chicken teriyaki in arrowroot wraps recipe

A deliciously light twist on a family favourite.

Read more
Food

Burnt sage breakfast hash recipe

A fragrant veggie breakfast, perfect served up with eggs.

Read more
Food

Miso maple greens recipe

A flavoursome way to eat your greens.

Read more
youtubeui-checkbox-tickui-checkbox-emptyui-checkbox-crosstwitterui-checkbox-tickWellbeing and mindfulness 1Physical Health 1Positive psychology 101 1Wellbeing and mindfulness 4All about gut health 1Understanding Genetics 4Planning for Pregnancy 2During Pregnancy 3The mind-gut connection 4The mind-gut connection 1New Parents 3Page 1Group 10During Pregnancy 2Page 1Physical Health 2Planning for Pregnancy 1Positive psychology 101 1Positive psychology 101 4Planning for Pregnancy 4Understanding Genetics 1Physical Health 4Planning for Pregnancy 3Nutrition 4New Parents 1New Parents 3 CopyMovement for your mind 4Wellbeing and mindfulness 2Nutrition 2sob-icon__mind-bodysob-icon__man-with-laptopAll about gut health 2Positive psychology 101 3Positive psychology 101 2Physical Health 3Wellbeing and mindfulness 3All about gut health 3genetics-changing-what-your-givenUnderstanding Genetics 2During Pregnancy 1Movement for your mind 2Movement for your mind 1Movement for your mind 3During Pregnancy 4