As parents, we all want our kids to grow and develop appropriately, and a big part of that is healthy eating. Eating healthy means serving and eating fruits and vegetables daily, to get in the needed vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein that kids need to thrive. Here are my top five tips for parents to increase fruit and vegetable intake in kids.
- Serve fruits and vegetables every day. (The recommendation is 3 servings of fruit and 2 ½ servings of vegetables daily.) Repeated exposure is one of the best ways to normalize and ingrain the habit of eating colorful fruits and veggies for life.
- Mix it up: serve a variety of plants, and different ones day to day, week to week, season to season.
- Prepare them in different ways. Raw: cubed, sliced thick, sliced thin, shredded, spiralized, etc. Cooked: steamed with butter, roasted, sautéed, etc. Zjing them in a smoothie and put them into desserts and treats, too.
- Serve fruit at dinner time! Many moms set the table with plates, utensils and milk; then a plate of raw veggies and cut fruit to get the meal started, every day.
- Serve veggies at breakfast! Black beans in a breakfast wrap, spinach in an omelet, kale in a smoothie, mushrooms with scrambled eggs, salsa or sliced tomatoes with egg whites, dry cereals made with garbanzo beans. There are many ways you can incorporate veggies at breakfast.
Bonus tip: Lead by example. Eat the same food as your kids do and don’t serve “kid food” too frequently. It’s much more fun and inviting to eat meals when mommy and daddy are eating! Plus, by eating fruits and veggies every day with them, it will seamlessly model healthy eating to those little eyes and ears, without pressure.
Sarah Pruett Soufl, MS, RD is a non-diet Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is passionate about helping families develop feeding and eating habits that help children cultivate life-giving relationships with food long-term. Learn more: souflnutrition.com