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MissouriFamilies.org - Food and Fitness

 

Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Children

 

Face made of fruit and veggies on breadGetting kids to eat fruits and vegetables

Gina Lile, former Dietetic Intern, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services; Karen Sherbondy, RD, LD, Extension Associate, University of Missouri Extension

 

Establishing a love for fruits and vegetables while your children are young will benefit their health now and in the future. A diet high in colorful fruits and vegetables will provide a variety of vitamins, minerals and fiber that children need to grow. Studies show that eating fruits and vegetables can help your child maintain a healthy weight, keep bowels regular and decrease the chance of diseases like heart disease and cancer.

 

However, getting kids excited about fruits and vegetables can be a challenge. You may offer fruits and vegetables at mealtimes but your child refuses. If you have a picky eater who won’t touch a plate with leafy greens or an unfamiliar vegetable, you may be wondering what to do. Try these tips:

 

  • At the grocery store, let children pick their own fruit or vegetable.
    • For variety, try a different color each week.
    • Or fill the shopping basket with a fruit or vegetable from every color in the rainbow.
       
  • Let them play with their food. Use slices, dices, pieces and whole fruits and vegetables to be creative.
    • Make colorful, funny fruit and vegetable faces. Make a game out of it (who can make the funniest face) and then eat them together.
    • Make an edible landscape. For example, use a banana slice as the sunshine, broccoli as trees, leafy greens for grass, etc.
    • Give fruits and vegetables a funny name.
       
  • Let children help prepare fruits and vegetables. They can:
    • Wash fruits and vegetables before cooking or eating
    • Snap the peas or break apart the broccoli
    • Tear the lettuce for salads and sandwiches
    • Measure the vegetables before cooking
    • Peel fruits and vegetables
    • Slice soft vegetables with a plastic knife
       
  • Read books about fruits and vegetables with your child.
     
  • Introduce children to gardening to teach them how fruits and vegetables grow. Plant seeds together and watch them grow.
     
  • Set a good example — eat and enjoy fruits and vegetables with your child.
     
  • Have your child eat with another child who loves fruits and vegetables.
     

 

Start now to establish a lifetime of healthy eating habits for your children!

 

 

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Last update: Monday, April 03, 2017