Why Fresh? Guide to incorporating more fruits and vegetables. 5 Steps for Food Success

Vibrant, crisp, fun, and colorful fruits and vegetables play a primary role in your child’s diet. Both contain essential nutrients that are important for their health, growth and physical development. Note these few tips to follow:

Children learn by example:

Babies commonly begin to eat fruit and vegetables as one of their first solid foods. At a year old, you may notice the “fussiness” in your children as they begin to flex their independence and dietary preferences. Often this change in personality with food includes fruit and vegetables. Parents, don’t worry if your children start to eat less fruits and vegetables during this time. This is a common behavior for toddler ages. The best way to counteract this behavior is for the parents to role-model this practice daily, and furthermore incorporate more into meal preparation of meals. Mimicry is how children learn best so, keep trying!

Fruit and vegetable benefits:

Eating a wide variety of vegetables and fruits provide important vitamins such as vitamin C and folic acid. They also possess other plant substances that are thought to be important to help reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease. We all know that these food groups and vegetables are a natural food source and are the most under-consumed food component, so load up on those greens!

Just try it!

According to “MyPlate” and other popular nutritional programs, we are encouraged to eat two fruits and five vegetables daily, but many children and most adults do not. Often children may reach for the high fat and sugar packed snack foods instead. Sometimes parents give up offering vegetables or fruit because it seems children often leave these uneaten and unwanted. Continue to offer your child a variety of fruits and vegetables daily with each meal, and not just the type they like. Children’s serving sizes may be small, dependent on their age, appetite and activity levels. Remember, anything is better than nothing. Look for ways to make fresh foods exciting.

Encourage your child to eat more fruit and vegetables:

When you have healthy eating habits it will prompt your child to as well. Keep offering fruits and vegetables in a variety, as children are more likely to eat what is familiar. Never assume your child dislikes a fruit or vegetable. The next time you offer it may be the day they decide to try it. Children’s tastes change as adults do. Studies have found it takes six introductions of a new food before a child decides if they like it. Keep trying.

5 steps for food success:

1.      Involving your child in food prep and planning

Take your child fruit and vegetable shopping and let them see, smell and feel the fruits and vegetables with you. Allow your child to help wash and prepare fruit and vegetables. This is an opportunity to explore colors and shapes of them.

2.      Start a Garden

Grow some vegetables or herbs in the garden. Let your child water and nurture the plant. Caring for something that’s their own will taste that much better.

3.      Embrace Reluctance

Don’t rob your child(ren) the opportunity to try brussels sprouts and eggplants, etc.

4.      Fresh. Fresh. Fresh

Keep a bowl of fresh fruit handy. Easy grab vegetables such as peas, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots and mushrooms are a great healthier alternative than what’s in those pantry..

5.      Presentation

Make the vegetables and fruit look great on the plate. Serving something that’s visually appealing is important for children.