We all know by now that we should be eating more fruit, and we should be making fresh fruit more readily available for our kids. Fruit contains vitamins and nutrients that every body needs to get through every day, as well as being a far healthier snack than almost anything else you could choose.
You know fruit is good for you and your family, but why then is it still so hard to get more into your diet?
Fruit is not usually comfort food
There might be a few reasons why we turn to other snack options before we reach for fruit. Food often has a very psychological effect to it, and our bodies are used to seeking comfort food, or craving things like salt and sugar. Our bodies and moods are more inclined to reach for something unhealthy (which we think will make us happier) than something good for us like fruit.
For some strange reason, our bodies don’t seem naturally predisposed to craving fruit (or anything else that is really good for us!) It could be because as children we connect treat food as a reward for being good, or to make us feel better if we hurt ourselves. As adults, these foods become the ones we turn to reward or comfort ourselves.
Also, components like sugar are addictive and have a withdrawal aspect to them, which feels unpleasant. So once we are used to foods that are high in processed sugar, we need to keep giving them to our bodies to prevent this withdrawal and satisfy ongoing cravings.
How to teach yourself to crave fruit
We need to ride through any kind of unpleasant withdrawal and get to the other side where our body no longer craves things that are bad for it. Our bodies actually should be craving nutritious food, this is what primitive humans would have done. We have taught our modern bodies to crave otherwise, and we can just as easily unteach them.
We also need to remove the connection between food and feelings. Food does not have the power to make negative feelings go away, and shouldn’t be connected to making us feel better. Food is fuel to make our physical bodies run, not to nourish our emotions.
Focus instead on the physical feeling that comes after you eat fruit. A diet rich in fruit and vegetables and low in sugar and fats gives people a lovely natural high, with more energy, clearer skin, healthier digestion and bowels and usually some weight loss as well.
We can teach ourselves to crave this physical good feeling from food rather than craving the psychological good one the unhealthy food tends to give us.
Embrace mindful eating
Another wonderful technique is mindful eating, where we eat slowly, usually sitting down, without distractions like screens, and focus on our senses and savouring every bite. We experience the joy of good fresh food in the moment rather than the emotional high we are looking for afterwards.
People who eat slower and sitting down tend to make much better food choices, as well as consuming much less and stopping when they are naturally full.
The fruit we are used to is bland and boring
Our relationship with fruit can often be quite restricted, and kind of boring. Growing up, our fruit options may have been much more limited, and many families are only exposed to fruit that was cheap, safe or sturdy.
Fruit tastes vastly better when it is fresh, local and seasonal, and there are so many more varieties and possible uses for fruit than we realise. If we want to make fruit popular, we need to be willing to explore different types and different ways of preparing and serving them, as well as be willing to buy fresh seasonal and organic fruit which quite simply is when it tastes the best.
The variety and availability of fruit in this day and age is incredible, and we really have no excuse to play it boring or safe. Try different and exciting things, and expose your kids to them as often as possible, getting them used to the idea of always trying something new before turning their little noses up at it.
So why are apples and strawberries so good?
Well, pretty much all fruit is good, but apples and strawberries are kind of magical. They have extra powers as well as some pretty amazing flavours which mean they naturally fit into a varied and healthy diet. Plus they are super versatile and require little preparation to enjoy them.
High in antioxidants, apples give you a low calorie, moderated release of energy that will keep you going for hours. They are great for upset stomachs or regulating your digestion, and may even fight illness and some cancers.
They help cell regeneration and lower cholesterol and are good for your skin, heart and bones. They also contain fibre, potassium and manganese, as well as vitamins C, K and B6.
Strawberries are one of the highest sources of antioxidants and are also incredibly high in vitamin C. They have one of the highest vitamin and nutrient contents of any fruit for their size.
They are great brain food and can help memory. They have lovely anti-ageing properties, ease inflammation, promote bone and eye health and lower heart disease. They keep your weight low and also help your body to burn stores of fat.
Here are some wonderful ways to get more fruit into your day
One of the easiest ways to add more fruit and veggies as well to your diet is to make juices or smoothies. You don’t need bullets or juicers specifically to do this, a normal blender will work fine. You can also use fruit that is misshapen or starting to go brown and smushy for these as the look of the smoothie will be the same regardless.
Try blending up anything in your fridge or fruit bowl. Watermelon is great for its water content, then you can add pears, apples, any berries, things like kale or spinach, even almonds or avocado.
Muesli and Oatmeal
Add chopped fresh fruit to muesli or oatmeal for your breakfast; apples, berries and pear are all great for this, as are bananas. Skip the sugar or maple syrup and sprinkle with cinnamon instead. Almost all fruits are lovely cold and fresh or warmed up like in oatmeal for a winter breakfast that will keep you going all morning.
Sandwiches and Salads
Add sneaky fruit to sandwiches and salads. Grate apple in sandwiches with cheese, chicken or meat. Add chopped apple, pear, watermelon or mandarin to summer or autumn salads for extra nutrition and a little bite of sweetness. Berries and pomegranates are also just wonderful when added to salad and go beautifully with bitter greens or proteins in your mix like chicken, prawn, tofu, nuts or feta.
Children love fruit kebabs, and these not only taste great, they look amazing. Thread things like berries, grapes, cubes of fruit or melon or pineapple cut with cookie cutter shapes onto kebab sticks. These are a huge hit for dessert or at any children’s birthday party.
For some reason, we are not inclined to grab a whole piece of fruit from the fruit bowl and chow down, and neither are our children. Food is more attractive when it is ‘plated up’ or prepared, washed, cut and arranged ready for eating.
If this makes you more likely to eat it, then take the extra steps in preparing it. Have containers or zip-lock bags of bite-sized pieces of fruit and vegetables ready to grab and go. After school put together a fruit platter of a variety of cut up fruits – your children are far more likely to take this option.
And of course, for the whole rainbow of fruit available come to Eric’s!