Excite Kids About Fruits and Veggies

Submitted by Franny Eastwood, Family & Consumer Science Agent

Summer is a great time to access affordable, great tasting fresh produce, but purchasing that produce for your children or grandchildren without letting it go to waste can be tricky.

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 or vegetable.

  • 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 and vegetables.

Start now to establish a lifetime of healthy eating habits for your children!

Source: University of Missouri Extension, Getting Kids to Eat Fruits and Vegetables. For more information on nutrition, food safety, health, or family and child development contact the Marais des Cygnes Extension District Paola (913-294-4306) or Mound City (913-795-2829) offices, or write to fmeastwo@ksu.edu or check out our website: www.maraisdescygnes.k-state.edu

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