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Sunday, November 6, 2016

How to get kids to eat more fruits and veggies

Everyone knows fruits and vegetables are good for your health.  But many parents don’t know about half of what a kid eats should be fruits and vegetables.  MyPlate shows a plate with half the plate being fruits and veggies.  Many parents aren’t serving kids even one fruit or vegetable at a meal, let alone 2 at each meal.  In fact, statistics show only 22% of kids ages 2-5 are getting the recommended servings of vegetables. For older kids, it’s even worse with only 16% of kids ages 6-11 and only 11% of kids ages 12 to 18 are getting the recommended vegetable servings.  Even then the vegetable is often French fries or chips.     

Many nutritionists and health care professionals offer tips to parents on how to get kids to eat their veggies (and their fruit).

  1.  One bite rule – child care centers often invoke this rule.  A child has to take at least one bite before they get to veto the food.  The child may find they actually like the food but if not, at least they have given it a try before saying “no”.
  2. Cute names – many studies have shown that giving a food a cute name will get a child to eat that food.  “Mighty Green Beans” are more likely to be eaten.  Try different names to see what works.
  3. Cooking – get kids to help with cooking or help in the kitchen.  USDA has a helpful guide on how to get even preschoolers to help out in the kitchen. 
2 year olds
3 year olds
4 year olds
5 year olds
Wipe tables
Add ingredients
Peel eggs
Measure liquids
Tear lettuce or greens
Scoop out mashed potatoes
Set the table
Use an egg beater
Snap green beans
Squeeze citrus, lemons
Crack eggs
Cut soft foods with a dull knife
Rinse vegetables or fruit
Stir batter like pancake batter
Help measure ingredients
Clearing the table after a meal
Make “faces” out of fruit and vegetable pieces
Name and count foods
Help make sandwiches, toss salads
Scrubbing vegetables (potatoes, mushrooms)

4.   Try different forms of the fruit or vegetable – a child might not like apples unless they are peeled.  Try fresh, frozen, dried, canned foods to see what your child likes better.  Some children won’t drink juice with pulp in it but like juice without pulp. 
5.       Serve fruit and or vegetables at every meal.

a.       Breakfast – add fruit to cereal
b.       Lunch – Pack – 2 fruits/vegetables in lunch: cut up vegetables, a salad, hummus, add a box of raisins
c.       Snacks – piece of fruit, raw vegetables with a dip, box of raisins
d.       Dinner – always serve 2 fruits/vegetables at dinner.  Add veggies to frozen pizza, add more cut up vegetables to the salad mix.  

Try some Recipes:  Fruits & Vegetables like Fruity Frozen Treats, Mango Salsa and make them with your kids.  USDA has Cooking with Kids guides for cooking with preschoolers, elementary school and Fast Meals & Quick Snacks for middle and high school age kids.

So this week, try to get your kids in the kitchen and eating at least one and hopefully 2 fruits and vegetables at lunch and dinner.

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