Kids Vs. Vegetables

We all know that fruits and vegetables are some of the healthiest foods (if not THE healthiest foods) your kids can be eating.  We also all know that most of our kids don’t request carrot sticks when they are hungry.   Fruit is an easier sell, but it still can be hard to get enough into their diets. (See bottom of post for servings/day for children.)

In my quest to have my children eat more fruits and veggies, I have come up with a few tricks that have really helped.   If you have any other tips, please share below them by posting a comment below. 

Tip 1:  Have cut up fruit out at breakfast time

Make sure to have cut up fruit out at breakfast time – blueberries, strawberries, apples, oranges, or whatever they like.  But here is the key.  Have the cut up fruit already at the table so that when the kids sit down, that is the only food available to them.  They will most likely be hungry and just start eating the fruit.  The second trick is to NOT prepare the other part of their breakfast until they are literally sitting at the table.  This way there really isn’t anything else to do while they are waiting but to eat the fruit.

Tip 2:  On school days, include a fruit or vegetable for snack

Im sure most of you do this already, but the reason I mention this is because my kids always ask me to pack ‘snacky’ types of things for their snacks, like pretzels, goldfish, etc.  I compromise with them and give them a snack of half fruit and half snacky stuff.  I bought these awesome containers called lunchbots that are divided in half so I can pack it easily.  I also make a deal with them that they need to do ‘bite for bite’ meaning that they alternate eating their fruit with their snack stuff to avoid them eating ALL of the snack stuff and only 1 or 2 pieces of the fruit. 

Tip 3:  Cut up veggies after school

Have cut up vegetables ready for them when they get home from school.  This tip is similar to tip 1 in the sense that if you have the cut up vegetables ready and waiting for them when they come home from school, they can start munching on them as soon as they walk in.  They probably will ask for something else, too, but you can make it a rule that they have to eat a certain number of vegetables first.  I find that it goes over much better when I cut the veggies into larger pieces and have them eat only 5 as opposed to cutting them into smaller pieces and have them eat 10.  My daughter is a huge veggie dipper so I also have a little bowl of ranch dressing on the side.

Tip 4:  Only fruit or veggies after dinner

My kids eat at around 5:00/5:30.  By 8:00 they are already asking for a snack.  They know that after dinner the only allowable snack is fruit or veggies.  Make it a rule and they will know not to beg for junky stuff.

Tip 5:  Always offer dips

My kids know that salad dressing is allowed whenever they eat vegetables, and almond butter is allowed whenever they eat fruit.  (My kids are allergic to peanuts.)  This definitely ups the attractiveness of the snack since it isn’t JUST the fruit or vegetable.  In fact, apples dipped in almond butter is eaten after dinner most nights of the week in my house, and I am happy because almond butter is a great source of protein.

Tip 6:  Bite for bite at dinner

This is a great tip for children who don’t have big appetites.  As mentioned in tip 2, the bite for bite method requires alternating eating veggies with the other foods on their dinner plate.  So if you serve chicken, brown rice, and broccoli for dinner, every other bite has to be the broccoli.  This way your child with a small appetite won’t dig into the rice, have some of her chicken, and make the big ‘Im full’ announcement without getting any veggies in.

Tip 7:  Practice what you preach

You are a role model.  Your children will really only accept this fruit and veggie push if they see YOU eating them too.  Pop some fruit bites into your mouth as they are eating breakfast.  Sit down with them after school and have some veggies.  Mention how much you love the vegetable that is being served at dinner. 

Tip 8:  Educate your children

Although this tip came last, I actually think it is the most important one.  In order for your children to fully be on board for eating more fruits and vegetables, you must educate them.  Make them understand that you are encouraging them to eat fruits and vegetables because you love them so much and want them to nourish their bodies with nutrient dense foods.  Explain to them about the benefits of vitamins, phytonutrients, and fiber and how important these things are to keeping them strong, vibrant, healthy, and physically fit.  Make it an open dialogue and a joint venture.   

Daily Fruits & Vegetables Servings For Children

Age                Fruits              Vegetables

2 – 3                  1                   2 1/2

4 – 6                  2                   3

6+                     2 – 4              3 – 5

I like to share the love! Click here if you want some of my healthy dinner ideas your kids will love!

Everyone wins!