Forget the old adage “less is more”. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, more is less. Focusing on more nutrients, fiber, servings, and colors can mean a healthy weight for your child and less tendencies towards an unhealthy weight and its complications.
There are a lot of quick and easy ways to turn your kids into lean, mean, fruit and veggie eating machines!
Use common sense
When it comes to food choices, fruits and vegetables are a no-brainer. They are nutrient-dense and low calorie, which allows you to eat more than almost any other food. And, you get the added benefit of fiber, a nutrient that promotes satisfaction after a meal.
A cup of fruits or vegetables contain a similar amount of calories as a 100-calorie snack pack, minus the added fat and sugar.
Look at the “whole” picture
Experts recommend that children get at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. This can be accomplished by adding a serving of fruit to every meal, and a vegetable to at least 2 meals or snacks.
Fruits and veggies are the original convenience foods– pre-packaged, pre-portioned, and portable. Check out the many forms of produce available in supermarkets today. You’ll get more fiber from whole produce, but frozen, canned in natural juices, juiced, dried, and even freeze-dried fruits and vegetables are great options, too.
Taste the rainbow
Choosing a wide variety of color for your child’s diet is the best way to ensure that they get a wide variety of key nutrients. Fruits and vegetables are a natural way to add color. Vary your colors each day and within each meal.
It’s all about the way you look at things. Food should provide pleasure, not pain. Approach eating fruits and vegetables with a positive attitude and your kids will follow suit. Focus on what you get to eat instead of what you think you can’t eat.
A healthy outlook and attitude are just as important as healthy behaviors. Studies have shown that focusing on increasing fruits and vegetables is drastically more effective than focusing on eating foods with lower fat and sugar.
Patience is a virtue
The name of the game is exposure. It may take as many as 10-20 exposures to a new food before your child will find it acceptable, maybe even more. So if you are trying a new veggie, don’t despair. Ask them to try a bite, but don’t force your child to eat it if she doesn’t want to. Just try again another day, or with another food.
Double Duty- The Role Model and Gatekeeper
Leading by example is the most effective way to change your child’s behavior. If you want your child to eat more fruits and vegetables, then you need to model this behavior.
Likewise, you are the decision-maker when it comes to purchasing food—if you want more fruits and veggies to be eaten, make sure you have ample choices in the kitchen.
Bring more fruits and vegetables into your home and add satisfying, healthy foods to your child’s diet!
What are the biggest challenges with getting your child to eat fruits and vegetables?
Written by: Jill Castle, MS, RDN
Published on: February 4, 2010
Updated on: May 8, 2019