Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Children
Getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables
Gina Lile, dietetic intern, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services; Karen Sherbondy, RD, LD, Extension associate, University of Missouri Extension
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.
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.
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: Thursday, May 06, 2010