With summer’s colorful produce
at your fingertips, from farmers’ markets
to roadside stands now is the perfect time to get
kids to eat the recommended five daily servings
of fruits or vegetables, nutritionists say.
Here are some ways you can do just
“Offering children fruit or
vegetable choices empowers them to make healthy
decisions regarding their diet,” says Cindy
Cunningham, a nutrition expert and registered dietitian
at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical
Center in Dallas. “Summer is the perfect time
for a family to start increasing its intake of these
foods because they are inexpensive and readily available.”
Generally, adults have already formed
their food preferences, but if a variety of fruits
and vegetables are introduced to young children,
you could make a lifelong impression upon them.
In fact, children who learn to make good food
choices are more likely to grow up to be healthy
adults, Cunningham says.
First, she explains, remember
color when you’re buying fruits and veggies.
All fruits and vegetables contain disease-battling
phytochemicals, which give them their color, but
red, orange and green vegetables are the most nutrient
dense, she says.
Thanks to those phytochemicals, a
diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help lower
the risk for n cancers, high blood pressure and
eye diseases. What’s more, researchers at
UT-Southwestern found that eating at least 50 daily
grams of soluble fiber, which is found in fruits
and vegetables, can help lower insulin levels for
diabetics, Cunningham adds.
Your own diet, too
So you can’t go wrong getting
fruits and vegetables into your children’s
diets – as well as your own diet. Cunningham
says to try these tips:
• Add berries
and other fruits to breakfast cereals;
• Serve a fruit salad
• Grill veggies along
• Use sliced fruits and vegetables
for snacks and desserts and keep them within easy
reach in the refrigerator.
• Cut fruit and vegetable
offerings down to bite-size for small children.
• Make it a game for
youngsters to eat as many colors from the rainbow
as they can in a day.
• Have youngsters start each day with
a glass of 100-percent fruit
or vegetable juice. Frozen juices from concentrate
are as nutritious as fresh fruits, as long as
the label says “100 percent juice.”
• Keep introducing new fruits and vegetables
to children. It’s common for youngsters
to love a food one day and hate it the next. Don’t
force children to eat food they don’t like
or they may develop a lifelong dislike for that
• Let the kids pick out
recipes from cookbooks and magazines for you to
• Take them on the next
trip to the grocery store or farmers’ market
so they can assist in finding the healthy food.