In recent years, the rates of obesity and diabetes in children have increased drastically. The main reason for this is poor nutrition, which is mainly found in processed foods with a high fat or sugar content. While those foods taste good, they don’t provide much nutritional value.
As part of National Nutrition Month, it is an excellent time to discuss healthy eating and how to make it a habit. This article will discuss how parents can encourage children to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to improve their overall health.
Proper nutrition is essential for your child’s growth, development, energy, and stamina. It also helps children maintain a healthy weight and keep their bodies strong and healthy. Without good nourishment, children can suffer from deficiencies and other illnesses.
These deficiencies cause them to feel tired all the time and have trouble concentrating on tasks such as homework or sports practice. In addition, poor nutrition makes children more susceptible to illness, which means they’ll be missing more school days due to sickness than well-nourished peers who receive adequate amounts of nutrients each day.
A healthy diet can help protect children from many common diseases that affect children, such as:
Building a foundation of good nutrition during childhood is vital for staying healthy later in life. Children who are well-nourished are better able to learn and to remain active. Moreover, a lifetime of good eating habits begins at a young age.
When it comes to getting nutrients, your body works best when you eat fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s because they contain the most beneficial vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate (B9), potassium, magnesium, fiber, and other antioxidants. These nutrients are vital for brain health, digestion, and protecting against heart disease. Specifically, here are the functions that nutrients play within the body:
Half of your child’s plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables at each meal. You should serve at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. One serving is half a cup of cooked vegetables or fruit or 1 cup of raw vegetables or fruit. Visit Myplate.gov to know more about proper serving sizes.
While it is possible to get their vitamins and minerals from animal sources such as fish and dairy products, you can also find similar or higher amounts of these nutrients in plant-based sources, including beans, dark leafy greens, and dried fruit. To ensure getting the most nutrients, make them eat the rainbow! This means you should also serve vegetables and fruits in various colors.
As a parent, you want your child to eat vegetables and fruit. And yes, it can be frustrating when they don’t. But, don’t be surprised if your young child doesn’t like them. In fact, it’s normal for children to be picky eaters.
Most children go through phases when they turn up their nose to the green stuff. But you can make a difference in the long run. Learning to enjoy the tastes of fruits and veggies is an essential skill that parents can teach their children.
Whether your child likes to eat anything or is a picky eater, here’s how to make your child eat fruits and vegetables.
Ensure to set a serving of fruit or vegetables at every meal — whether a spinach salad with dinner or sliced fruit with breakfast. Offer choices between fruit and veggie options. You can ask, “Would you like an apple or a banana?”. Do you want carrots or green beans?”
Continue to introduce new foods. Most young children need to try a new food many times before deciding if they like it or not. Try new things when you shop — your children might be pleasantly surprised by a new taste. Continue to offer the things they already enjoy. You can even ask your child to help prepare their own veggie snack so they’ll be more likely to eat it.
Make them part of the meal planning, shopping, and cooking process. This way, children can identify with the food they’re eating. Bring them along to the farmer’s market or grocery store to pick out their choice of fruits and veggies. Children are far more likely to eat something they selected themselves. In addition, you can let them help prepare dinner by washing vegetables, peeling fruits, or stirring sauces.
Make healthy food choices in front of your children. Just like adults, children learn by example, so make sure they see you practicing what you preach: Eat lots of fruits and vegetables every day! If you eat them, they will follow suit.
Give your child choices! If your child does not like raw carrots, offer them cooked or as carrot juice. Some children do better with fruit if you make it into juice instead of eating it whole. Some prefer their vegetables chopped up instead of being left whole. Experiment with different styles until you find the one that works best for your child. Try cooking methods such as grilling, sautéing, steaming, or blanching.
Try to sneak vegetables into other dishes, such as casseroles or pasta dishes. You can also add chopped vegetables to sauces, soups, meatloaf to make them more nutritious. The best way is to add veggies to dishes that your child already likes. If your child loves macaroni and cheese, add broccoli or cauliflower to it before you bake it. If they like spaghetti and meatballs, add tomato sauce and extra chopped vegetables to their plate. When it comes to breakfast, you can put sliced fruit in their favorite cereal or yogurt.
Children love foods that look fun and are colorful. Include red peppers, carrots, or strawberries in your next salad, or serve fruit kabobs for dessert. Use cookie cutters or plungers to cut sandwiches into fun shapes. Put celery sticks on peanut butter sandwiches instead of potato chips for a healthier. Food tastes better when it looks great on the plate. You don’t need to be an artist — just put the food on the plate in a funny shape with a face on it, then tell your child a story about it.
Children often take in more total calories than they need, especially if they snack on foods that have high levels of sugar, fat, or salt. But snacking on fruits and vegetables instead is a good habit to instill from an early age. Serve vegetables with dips such as hummus, bean dips, or yogurt-based dips. Alternatively, you can have a mini grazing, complete with sliced apples or halved grapes, nuts, and cheese.
It’s easy to work healthy fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet with a bit of creativity! You can make healthy and nutritious meals that fit right in with your family’s favorite dishes and theirs by making a few minor changes. Using our tips, eating this type of food will become second nature to your child. They will be healthier in no time.
To ensure that your child’s nutrition is right, consult a well-child visit with CMCFresno. Call us at (559) 455-1500, or you can also book an appointment online. If you prefer telehealth services, visit the following link.