How to Get Children to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables Back »

Eating fruits and vegetables is crucial for a healthy diet, for both adults and children.  Yet many find it hard to incorporate the recommended amounts in their diet. Looking at Choose My Plate website, you will see that half your plate should be fruits and vegetables! Fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and these nutrient dense foods are very important to include in any eating plan, at any age.

Particularly to children, you may see that it is even harder to encourage regular consumption of the recommended fruits and vegetables. Maybe it’s the texture, the taste, the smell, or the look of the food that turns your child off. Although it may be discouraging, don’t give up. Finding creative ideas to encourage more consumption of fruits and vegetables can be fun for the entire family!

When introducing foods to children, there are some important things to remember:

  • Children are turned off to new foods if the smell, flavor or color is not appealing.
  • Some children are more apt to like different textures, some prefer smooth, whereas other like lumpy or crisp foods. Try feeding different textures to your child to discover their liking.
  • Offer a variety of new fruits and vegetable in combination with old favorites to show your child a variety of smells, textures and colors. Various vegetables can be added to any pasta, casserole or pizza.

Consuming more fruits and vegetables each day can be fun and easy, not to mention health enhancing for all children.

Below are some creative ways to help kids eat more fruits and vegetables from the Fruit and Veggies: More Matters website:

  • Keep a bowl of fresh fruits on the counter and keep fruits and vegetables cut up in small bags for easy grab and go snacks.
  • Serve fruits and vegetables at every meal.
  • Be a good role-model – snack on fruits and vegetables and order fruit and vegetables sides at restaurants.
  • Keep the freezer and cupboard packed with pre-cut, frozen and canned vegetables so it’s easier to incorporate as you prepare meals and snacks.
  • Challenge each family member to reach their daily fruits and vegetable goal – reward the winner with deciding what will be for dinner.
  • Encourage offerings of fruits and vegetables at school functions, after school programs and in vending machines.
  • Involve the children – let them decide which fruits and vegetables will be served for meals.
  • Make it fun – try dressing sandwiches with faces made from vegetables or make plain yogurt colorful with fruit.
  • Don’t give up, keep trying – it may take multiple times before a child acquires a taste for certain fruits and vegetables.
  • Encourage friends, daycare providers and relatives to frequently offer fruits and vegetable to your child.

Fruits and vegetables are offered in many forms, including fresh, frozen, canned and dried. These colorful foods are packed with nutrition. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of chronic disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers. For dietary recommendations for fruits and vegetables, visit the Fruit and Veggies: More Matters wesbite.

Table 1. Girls: Fruit & Veggie Daily Intake

Activity Level
Age
Fruits
(Cups)
Veggies
(Cups)
Less Active
2-3
1
1
 
4-8
1
1 1/2
 
9-13
1 1/2
2
 
14-18
1 1/2
2 1/2
 
Moderately Active
2-3
1
1 1/2
 
4-8
1 1/2
2
 
9-13
1 1/2
2 1/2
 
14-18
2
2 1/2
 
Active
2-3
1
1 1/2
 
4-8
1 1/2
2 1/2
 
9-13
1 1/2
3
 
14-18
2
3

 

Table 2. Boys Fruit & Veggie Daily Intake

 

Activity Level
Age
Fruits
(Cups)
Veggies
(Cups)
Less Active
2-3
1
1
 
4-8
1
1 1/2
 
9-13
1 1/2
2 1/2
 
14-18
2
3
 
Moderately Active
2-3
1
1 1/2
 
4-8
1 1/2
2
 
9-13
1 1/2
3
 
14-18
2
3 1/2
 
Active
2-3
1
1 1/2
 
4-8
1 1/2
2 1/2
 
9-13
2
3 1/2
 
14-18
2 1/2
4

Reference:

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