So many kids’ diets today are lacking in fruits and veggies. A lot of greasy fries but little or no fresh fruit and veggies. A simple goal for all of us, but especially for kids is “5 A DAY”. At least five servings of fruit and veggies a day. I say at least, because I’ve always taught “5 A DAY” but one of my students thought eating 6 a day was too much. Not true. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends 9 servings a day. But aiming for at least “5 A DAY” is a good start. CDC has a good fact sheet and recommendations, let’s look at some of them.
- Make it easy - Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter. Also, refrigerate cut up fruits and vegetables in small bags for easy snacks. So much fresh produce is available right now. Keep it visible.
- Serve fruits and vegetables at every meal. Fruit for breakfast, 2 servings of fruit/vegetables at lunch and dinner. Add veggies to foods by grating or cutting up vegetables and adding to entrees, soups. Top cereal off with fruits. Add some frozen fruit like strawberries or blueberries to smoothies.
- Be a good example – are you eating “5 A Day”? Let your kids see you snacking on fruit, low-fat salads, vegetable sides (not French Fries). Choose fruit and veggies when eating out.
- Pack the Fridge – when your kids open the fridge are there fruits and veggies to snack on? Many kids like raw veggies and Ranch dressing. Have the veggies cut up and ready to eat.
- Take the Challenge – challenge family members to reach the “5 A Day” challenge. The winner can be rewarded with a small prize (not candy).
- Promote fruit and veggies at school functions – orange slices at soccer games, more fresh fruit at school functions. One school put bags of cut up carrots in the vending machine and sold them for 50 cents. These were a hit among students.
- Let kids choose – one kindergarten teacher in our area promotes a vegetable a week. One child asked their mom why they never ate zucchini, the vegetable promoted that week. The mom was shocked her child knew what zucchini was. So take the kids to the farmer market, take them to pick strawberries, raspberries, let them help prepare the corn, other veggies for dinner.
- Make them fun – kids love smiley faces made from fruits and vegetables.
- Keep trying – kids may not like a food on the first try. Maybe serve it a different way, but try again on another day.
- Encourage others - your friends, relatives to offer your kids fruits and vegetables.
For more ideas on getting kids to eat more fruits and veggies, see the fact sheet: 10 Ways to Help Kids Eat More Fruits and Veggies. For great snack suggestions and pictures of how to make snacks fun for kids, go to: Snack Ideas for Kids.