MU Extension MU Extension       University of Missouri    ●    Columbia    ●    Kansas City       Missouri S&T     ●    St. Louis - Food and Fitness


Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Children


Face made of fruit & 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 help them be healthy 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. Start now to establish a lifetime of healthy eating habits for your children.


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.
    • 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 and funny fruit and vegetable faces. Make a game out of it (who can make the funniest face), 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.





University of Missouri logo links to

Site Administrator:
Copyright  ADA  Equal Opportunity

MissouriFamilies is produced by the College of Human Environmental Sciences,
Extension Division, University of Missouri

Last update: Monday, September 14, 2015