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Kids, Fruits and Vegetables

Most people know that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is critical for good health, but getting kids to consume them can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to make produce more appealing.

Serve fruits and vegetables fresh, with dip: Fresh, crunchy produce usually tastes better to kids, and providing delicious dips increases their appeal.

Let kids choose their produce: Instead of forcing kids to eat particular vegetables (and possibly creating a lifelong aversion), encourage them to choose their own when shopping. Ask them to select a variety colors and shapes, and to try at least one new thing each month. This gives kids a sense of control, and they’ll be more open to trying things they’ve chosen themselves.

Cook together: Encourage kids to participate in the cooking process by helping to choose recipes and prepare fruits and vegetables.

Create positive associations: Serve new vegetables on evenings when you’re making popular favorites such as pizza or tacos and bake fruit- and vegetable-based desserts and snacks (zucchini cake, carrot muffins, berry pie, apple crumble, etc.).

Make fruits and vegetables fun: With young kids, it can be helpful to make things out of produce such as houses, cars, animals, or smiley faces.

Grow your own: Kids are more likely to eat produce they’ve helped to grow. This isn’t an option for everyone, but even if you don’t have a yard, lots of fruits and vegetables including peas, beans, leafy green vegetables, carrots, tomatoes, radishes, herbs, dwarf fruit trees, onions, garlic, and many types of berries grow well in containers on decks, patios, or driveways (some will even grow on a sunny windowsill).

Create snack packs: Use multi-compartment containers to create snack packs filled with colorful fruits, vegetables, and dips. This makes it as easy for kids to grab healthy snacks as processed junk foods.

Set a good example: Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits yourself to model this healthy behavior.

References:

Cohen, E., “Ten Ways to Get Kids to Eat Their Veggies,” CNN Health, 2 June 2011.
Nichols, K., “School Garden News – California,” 13 November 2008.
Pivonka, E., Dr., & Berry, B., 5 a Day: The Better Health Cookbook, The Philip Lief Group, Inc., 2002.
WebMD, “Get Kids to Eat More Veggies,” 20 June 2012.

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