According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation:
- Fewer than 15% of school-aged children eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables needed every day.
- Over half of all elementary school-aged children eat no fruit on any given day.
- Three out of 10 elementary school-aged children eat less than one serving of vegetables a day.
- One-quarter of all vegetables eaten by school aged students are french fries.
What's a mother to do?
The amounts recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is - younger children should eat atleast 1.5 cups each of fruits and vegetables every day. Older, and more active children should be eating up to two cups of fruit and 3.5 cups of vegetables each day. (Amounts are based on recommended calorie intakes for sex, age, and activity level: Check out www.mypyramid.gov to find out the amounts you and your children should be aiming for.
Here's some ideas to help you get your kids steered in the right direction when it comes to consuming enough of these nutritious foods....
- Take your children to the grocery store or open air market and let them choose a fruit or vegetable they like or would like to try.
- How about giving them each $5 and letting them do shopping on their own - not allowing bread or candy to be among their purchases.
- Add berries to their cereal; shredded lettuce and sliced tomatoes to their sandwiches; finely chopped carrots or broccoli added to soups, or other dishes, will give them the nutrition they need, without them even realizing it.
- Encourage fruits and vegetables as snacks. Serve fruit as a dessert, and keep a dish of fruit visible to your family. They will be more likely to eat more without thinking about getting something sweet instead.
- Give them fresh baby carrots and/or celery for snacking, along with their own little cup of ranch dressing for dip.
Here's a fun thing I did for my kids when they were growing up and have done it for my grandchildren as well. If you can make eating 'fun', you're more likely they will eat more nutritionally without a fight.
Take a red apple and cut it in half - core it, and slice it into 8 or 10 slices...to make 'lips'. Spread one side of two apple slices, with peanut butter, lay mini marshmallows on top to make 'teeth' and put the other apple slice on top. I can just about guarantee you'll make them smile as well - and that will be good for mom too.