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Posted on March 7, 2022 at 1:52 PM by Kari Bray
This is Part 5 in a multi-week series of blogs focused on the ABCs of Healthy Kids. Learn more at www.snohd.org/healthykids.
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and more that young bodies and minds need to stay healthy as they grow. There are multiple resources to help connect families with nutritious food if cost is a barrier. Don’t be discouraged if kids don’t like certain fruits or vegetables. There are many different types to try, and many ways to try them.
Young bodies and minds are growing and changing quickly. They need nutritious food to help them thrive.
Fruits and vegetables are a good source of the vitamins and minerals kids need. Many fruits and vegetables also are a good source of fiber, which helps people feel full and keeps digestion normal. They also tend to be lower in calories, fat content, sodium and cholesterol, compared to many other foods. This means you can serve kids a hefty snack that fills their bellies without overeating.
Eating fruits and vegetables instead of artificially sweetened and flavored foods also can help reduce the likelihood of long-term complications such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and some types of cancers.
The amount of fruit or vegetables a child should eat daily depends on age, height, weight and physical activity. Recommendations may also be adjusted based on any underlying health conditions, so be sure to talk to you doctor if your child has specific health concerns such as food allergies, diabetes or digestive issues.
General recommendations by age can be found as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate resources.
Children and teens may insist that they don’t like healthy snacks. Don’t lose hope. There is a wide variety of fruits and veggies out there, with all sorts of flavors and textures. These foods also can be prepared different ways. A kid who turns their nose up to cooked spinach might not notice a handful mixed into a berry smoothie. Canned fruit may be hit and miss for some kids, but see if they like blackberies fresh off the vines in the summer – just be careful of thorns and juice-stained little fingers!
Fresh fruits and vegetables are great and can be found at local stores as well as farmers markets. But remember that kids get the same nutrition from eating fruits and vegetables that are frozen, canned (preferably without sweetened syrup) or dried. They can be whole, diced, pureed, mashed, or blended into other meal components like sauces or fillings. Don't be afraid to get creative.
Groceries can be pricey, and sometimes fruits and vegetables are out of the budget for families. It’s important that children have access to nutritious food, and there are resources to help. Here are some options to consider if you need assistance affording healthy food:
It’s not always easy to convince kids to eat fruits and vegetables. It's worth it, though. By encouraging a healthy diet from a young age, you build lifelong healthy habits.
Here are some tips and tricks worth trying:
Take some time now to check off the “E” in the ABC's for healthy children. Have you found fruits and vegetables that fit into your kids’ daily diet?
Eating fruits and vegetables helps give kids the nutrition they need to grow and thrive.