Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Children
Getting 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.
- Fruits and Veggies More Matters, “Top 10 Ways to Get Kids Involved”
- University of Missouri Extension, “Clever Ways Parents Get Children to Eat Their Vegetables”
Last update: Monday, September 14, 2015