Healthy Food Tips for Kids

Just about everyone knows that fruits and vegetables are a very important part of a healthy diet. It's especially important for our growing kids to get these essential nutrients. Even though we know this to be true, many of us still find it hard to include the recommended 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit per day in our diets. Once you learn a few easy tricks, soon you'll have no trouble giving your kids a variety of fruits and vegetables every day.

First, you'll want to become generally familiar with serving sizes. They are not as big as you might think. Here are some of the guidelines for one serving of fruits or vegetables:

  • one cup of raw, leafy vegetables (such as lettuce of spinach)
  • half cup of other vegetables, cooked or chopped raw
  • half cup cooked or canned legumes (beans and peas)
  • three quarter cup of vegetable juice
  • one medium apple, banana, orange
  • half cup of chopped, cooked or canned fruit
  • three quarter cup of fruit juice
  • quarter cup dried fruit

Here are some practical tips anyone can use:

  • Be sure to include at least one fruit serving at breakfast, preferably two. Try a glass of orange juice and a whole piece of fruit, or a smoothie using fruit juice and whole fruit
  • Use snack-time to add a serving or two of fruits or vegetables to your daily diet, such a raw vegetables with some light dip or dressing, or a bowl of chopped fruit topped with some fat-free yogurt.
  • Include at least two servings of vegetables with lunch and dinner. A lunch example would be to add lettuce and tomato to a sandwich with some raw vegetables on the side. For dinner, try serving two sides of steam vegetables. Or eat a bowl of tomato or vegetable soup or gazpacho as an appetizer. Try a pizza with lots of veggie toppings.
  • Before you prepare dinner, fix a bowl of fresh veggies to snack on and then place it on the table with dinner. You'd be surprised how easy it is to down a half cup of cherry tomatoes or sliced cucumbers when you're snacking away.
  • If you don't have any fresh vegetables of fruit, keep frozen and canned veggies and fruits on hand-they are surprising comparable in terms of nutrition.
  • Drink a glass of vegetable juice with a meal or for a snack.
  • Make it a point to try a new fruit or vegetable as often as you can-it's a great way to discover wonderful new favorites!
  • Include fruit in your child's dessert selections! You can serve it with angel food cake, yogurt light whipping topping, chocolate syrup, light ice cream or even as a treat all by itself!

Remember that there are some stereotypes out there that paint all fruits and vegetables with the same bland brush. Kids are prone to believing these stereotypes. Make it stop. Make fruits and vegetables exciting by providing your kids with lots of variety.