Super 7 fruit and veg for kids

Jacket potato with chilli and saladIt’s impossible to pick up a newspaper without the latest advice on what we should or shouldn’t be eating and sometimes the research and advice is so contradictory it can be hard to know what to eat.

However I don’t think there’s any doubt that eating fruit and vegetables are a good thing to do to be healthy.

Just this week we’ve seen that we need to be eating more than the government recommended five a day.  Some research suggests eating seven portions can reduce the chance of an early death and some experts are even suggesting up to ten portions a day.

I must admit I was pleased to see these figures – my own personal experience tells me that the more “plant-based” food I eat, the healthier I feel.

And so it’s not surprising that I encourage my children to eat healthily too.  That’s not to say that they don’t eat cake and sweets but I try to keep them to a minimum and encourage them to fill up at meal times with fruit, salad and vegetables.

Back in January, in a bid to eat more of the green (red, yellow, orange and blue) stuff and less of the refined products (for that read sugar) we launched an initiative called Super 7 days.

This was two days a week where the children had to find seven different fruit and vegetables to eat during the course of the day.

The rules were simple – and discussed and agreed with them before hand so they bought into it from the concept:

1. Juice didn’t count

2. Dried fruit could only be counted once

3. Portion size wasn’t crucial but they couldn’t for example count just one blueberry it had to be a handful

4. There were no cakes, biscuits etc on Super 7 days.

The children were quite excited about this – they love a competition and they wanted to outdo each other – and I threw in a chart and stickers for the younger two which always seems to produce results.  So we were off to a good start.

I discovered some interesting things in this experiment.

1. The children didn’t moan or whine if they forgot the no sugar rule on these days.  If they asked for a biscuit I just said “no, it’s a super 7 day today,” and they were like “ok,” rather than the usual begging, pleading, cajoling routine.

2. They were keen to get more fruit or veg so they asked me to give them more.

3. Because their focus was on achieving the goal I was able to give them meals they hadn’t tried before without the usual: “What’s this? Do I like it?” instead if they could see that it had vegetables in they were more interested about how many vegetables it would give them towards their daily count and guess what – they just ate it.

4. It made me raise my game a bit.  Some times in the morning when I’m making the lunches it’s easy to throw in a bag of dried fruit and think that’ll do.  But because I wanted them to succeed I was chopping up cucumber, carrot sticks, washing blueberries, slicing apples etc

They didn’t always hit the magic seven.  sometimes they only got to five, but sometimes they got to eight.  However we celebrated them all, because at 5, 6 and 11 years old I think that looking for ways to eat more fruit and veg is something to be celebrated.

Unfortunately Super 7 took a bit of a hit over the last half term and never got properly reinstated.  Although habits certainly got changed and we are at five portions of fruit and veg a day on a regular basis.

However reading those newspaper articles this week has reminded me that we really do need to ensure we get more fruit and vegetables into our daily diet.  So with the Easter holidays upon us, the season of chocolate, it seems like a good time to start again.

The format may get changed a little, I’ll be consulting with the children later how they’d like to see it implemented and then we’ll get on it again.

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