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Helping your children eat more fruits and vegetables every day

Posted on Jun 11, 2010 by Maggie LaBarbera

Part 2:  Anne Kolker RD,

Does low fruit and vegetable intake really matter when children are young? Chronic illness such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer are usually concerns for adults. However, life-long positive eating habits (such as eating low fat foods, consuming foods with high fiber, eating less processed foods) are habit-forming when started young. Furthermore, certain diseases such as diabetes and high cholesterol are starting to appear in children who are overweight. Finally, fruits and vegetables have so many naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber that are good for your health.

Are our busy lifestyles to blame? Certainly, if you have kids you are getting in the car to go somewhere (to a restaurant, to soccer practice, etc.). Packaged food such as chips or power bars are very convenient and there is something about opening up a package that seems so easy compared to slicing up that lonely piece of fruit. It really is just a mindset though. Once you start packing up the fruits and veggies in Tupperware containers you will get in the habit. Plus, fruits and veggies are low in calories and fill you up.

We are constantly bombarded with food advertisements and not necessarily for healthy food such as fruits and vegetables[1]. In fact, children 2 to 11 years old areexposed to an average of 150 to 200 hours of commercial messages,or 20,000 commercials a year and the majority of these advertisement are for cereals, candies, or other sweets [2].

So, what is a parent to do? Role modeling is my motto. If you are eating your fruits and vegetables, your children will too. In 2002, researchers at Pennsylvania State University examined parental pressure (“finish your vegetables” or “do as I say”) vs. role modeling (“do as I do”) among 191 five year old girls. The results showed that a daughter’s fruit and vegetable intake was positively related to their parent’s reported fruit and vegetable intake[3].

Fun Resources for KIds - Increasing your child's fruit and vegetable intake:

Fruit Food Groups Learning Sheet

Healthy Food Diaries and Goal Tracking Sheets for Kids

Printable - Fruits and Vegetables Coloring Sheet 1

Printable - Fruits and Vegetables Coloring Sheet 2

Matching Food Groups Game

Yummy Drops -Deliver Fresh Fruits Game

Build a Healthy Meal Game



[3] Journal of the American Dietetic Association Jan 2002); see





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