How to Get Your Kids to Eat and Enjoy Fruits and Veggies
- Friday, July 19, 2013
Many parents have served their children fruits and vegetables, only to then engage in frustrating battles trying to get their kids to actually eat those healthy foods. Natural goodies like fruits and vegetables just don’t seem appealing to many young people today who are accustomed to eating processed foods like chips, hot dogs, cookies, and snack bars that are heavily marketed as fun foods to eat.
Despite the fact that the fruits and vegetables God has designed contain a treasure trove of beneficial nutrients, American youth fall woefully short of the amount of fruits and vegetables they should eat for good health. A 2009 study from the American Dietetic Association showed that most American children don’t meet the United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPyramid recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption, which is to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Those who failed to meet the minimum amount of fruit consumption: 50.2 percent of kids ages 2 to 5, 74.1 percent of kids 6 to 11, and 80.5 percent of adolescents 12 to 18 years old. Those who failed to meet the minimum amount of vegetable consumption: 78.3 percent of kids ages 2 to 5, 83.8 percent of kids 6 to 11, and 89.5 percent of adolescents 12 to 18 years old. So the majority of U.S. kids don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, and as kids get older, they tend to eat even fewer fruits and veggies than they did before.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which says that fruits and vegetables “provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health,” released a 2013 report that shows just how little produce American adolescents are actually eating. Many (36 percent) report consuming fruit less than one time daily, and 37.7 percent of adolescents report consuming vegetables less than once per day.
What’s a parent to do? How can you get your kids to starting eating and enjoying the fruits and vegetables that God created, proclaiming in Genesis 1:29 that they “…will be yours for food”?
The summer – when most fruits and vegetables are naturally in season – is a great time for you to help your children discover how delicious they are and how fun it can be to eat them every day. Here’s how:
Visit your local farmer’s markets together. Buy produce from farmer’s markets in your area this summer to give your family a taste of the freshest fruits and vegetables – ones that come straight to market after they’re harvested. Encourage your children to ask the farmers there questions about how they grew the food you’re buying. Then, at home, enjoy eating your delicious bounty together.
Grow food in a home garden. If you have a yard with enough space for a simple garden, consider growing some basic fruits and/or veggies so your kids can see how food grows from seed to harvest. The process of cultivating their own food can give children and teens a sense of wonder that will inspire them to appreciate fruits and vegetables more than they had before.
Try something new. Introduce your kids to some of the world’s unusual fruits and vegetables to give them a sampling of the wide variety of produce God has made and pique their curiosity to learn more. Rather than just eating fruits and vegetables that your family is familiar with, consider trying exotic fruits such as a kumquat, cherimoya, lychee, physalis, jabuticaba, durian, rambutan, pepino, star fruit, dragon fruit, and miracle fruit. Unusual vegetables your family may want to try include jicama, chard, fiddlehead fern, collard, acorn squash, sea bean, winged bean, chayote, kohlrabi, Roman cauliflower, and Jerusalem artichoke. If your regular grocery store doesn’t sell all of these exotic foods, you can find them by visiting a health food or ethnic food store in your area.
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