Fruits and vegetables provide enormous health benefits, but little ones may find it challenging to meet the recommended number of daily servings for each. In fact, national surveys indicate that most children do not consume enough vegetables, and that about one-third of the vegetables children did eat were mostly from potatoes, such as French fries or chips.
The following strategies can be helpful to get your child to eat a variety of healthy vegetables. It may take some time, but encouragement and a little imagination will increase the odds.
Start Small - Mix familiar salad greens with one or two new veggies.
Color is Appealing - Children naturally navigate towards red, so try red cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, and even red beets. Carrots also come in a variety of colors including purple. Identifying colors can become a fun game and take pressure off eating.
Shape - Get creative with cubes, sticks, and Julienne sliced vegetables. Special peelers can create visual interest with creative swirls and curly cues.
Size is Key - Bite size pieces are easier for small mouths to manage. Carrot or celery sticks are favorite finger foods and dip easily.
Salad Dippers - Homemade or store bought, dips can help veggies get eaten. A creamy salad dressing, bean dip (hummus), or a cheese dip can entice little ones to try new vegetables.
Sweet - A bit of natural sweetness added to salad greens, such as apples, berries, jicama, mandarin oranges, or melon balls can help stimulate appetites.
Getting kids to eat a variety of vegetables from the rainbow diet can be fun!
Contributed by Leslie K. Kay-Getzinger, Regional Dietitian for Nutrition Management Services