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 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
- 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
Start now to establish a lifetime of healthy eating habits for your children!
- Top 10 Ways to Get Kids Involved in Healthy Cooking and Shopping, Fruits and Veggies More Matters
- MyPlate: Kid-Friendly Veggies and Fruits — 10 Tips for Making Healthy Foods More Fun for Children, University of Missouri Extension
Last update: Monday, April 03, 2017