Chicken Nuggets Or Fruits Or Vegetables

My Life Would Be A Lot Easier If Chicken Nuggets Were Considered a Fruit Or Vegetable

Too bad chicken nuggets don’t grow in the ground because we could call them vegetables and our kids would be eating healthy food all the time.  As a parent all your troubles would be over and your kids would be happy to eat vegetables. 

Recent changes to the government guidelines recommend kids need to eat more fruits and vegetables.  In order for kids to get their recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables, kids would need to have half of their plate filled with fruits and vegetables.

You’re probably gasping or laughing at the thought of getting your kids to eat half a plate of fruits and vegetables.  Clearly, this is a big problem to overcome, but if habits aren’t put in place early, the problem only gets worse as the kids get older.

Need proof?  The Ohio State University conducted a study in 2009 with over 6,000 kids ranging from two to eighteen years old. Only twenty-two percent of the kids between the ages of 2 and 5 years old got the recommended daily allowance of vegetables.

This is the most critical age for kids to develop good eating habits for fruits and vegetables.  Twenty-two percent is nothing to brag about because the battle to get older kids on board is even harder.

In the same study, only 16% of the kids aged six to eleven met the government guidelines and only 11% of kids aged twelve to eighteen met the government criteria.  Interestingly, a big percentage of the fruits and vegetables the kids consumed were in the form of potatoes (fries and chips) and fruit juice.

Chips, fries and juice lowered the actual number of real fruits and vegetables the kids were eating every day.  So based on these findings, you’re likely to start at a huge disadvantage getting your kids to eat the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.

Rather than focus on these dismal numbers, let’s focus on 14 things you can do to get your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Take your kids shopping for fruits and vegetables.  I would recommend taking your kids to a local fresh food market.  The smells are much different than in a supermarket.  See if they gravitate to certain fruits and vegetables.  That’ll be a good starting point for success.

Teach your kids to cook.  Sixty-five percent of the population is visual learners and they do best when they actually see something being done.  The level of learning increases even more when participation is included.  Kids will be more interested in eating things they prepared or cooked.

Replace Taco Night with Veggie Night.  There all kinds of things you can serve up like Portobello mushroom burgers, vegetable platters with hummus dip, veggie burgers, etc.

Disguise your vegetables.  Potatoes really shouldn’t be considered a vegetable; they should be considered a starch.  So instead of making mash potatoes, use cauliflower mash potatoes.  It’s a nutrient packed dish the kids will love.  You can find plenty of recipes if you Google cauliflower mash potatoes.

Make your fruits and vegetables visually appealing.  I recently bought a food mandolin to cut up fruits and vegetables in a way that was pleasing to my eyes.  Kids are no different.  If they like the presentation of food in front of them, they will eat it.

Satisfy their hunger.  As I mentioned in the previous tip, lay out a nice assortment of fruits and vegetables when kids are hungry.  The visual presentation will make it even better.

Introduce kitchen appliances into your strategy.  Kids love gadgets and they’ll love making their own smoothies or juices.  Remember kids will definitely learn more if they are participating in the process.

Stock your refrigerator with individual servings of fruits and vegetables.  Kids love snacks in individual serving bags so steal an idea from the snack food companies and prepare your own health snacks for your kids.

Close the kitchen.  The only exception to this rule is to get veggies or fruits out of the refrigerator.  The kitchen is no longer a 24-hour convenience store.

Add some zest to your vegetables.  Disguise the broccoli, cauliflower and green beans with a creative, healthy sauce.

Be a role model.  You can’t expect your kids to eat fruits and vegetables if you don’t load them on your plate.

Turn raw into steamed or baked.  Kids may not love green beans, but they might like green bean fries when you roast them in the oven.  Let them put ketchup on the roasted green beans; they’ll love it!

Get your kids to appreciate where fruits and vegetable come from.  Kids love a hands on approach.  Take them to a farm or an apple orchard or a strawberry field or a pumpkin patch.  They will not forget the experience.

Soup it up.  Again kids love being part of the process. Teach them how to make great tasting vegetable based soups.  If they have a stake in the outcome of the product they are more likely to eat it.

Don’t give up after the first try.  That’s like allowing your kids to dictate what they want and don’t want.  You will all lose with this scenario.

The reason all these tips are important is because you are trying to develop good habits for your kids for the rest of their lives.  The recommended number of servings adults should have each day is 9 (2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day).

In the United States today, adults average about 3 servings of vegetables.  That’s one-third the recommended amounts we should be taking in every day.  There was a 14-year study done by Harvard University that showed people who ate 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day reduced their risk for stroke and heart disease compared to people who only ate 3 servings a day.

The numbers get even more impressive when you look at people who eat 8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day compared to those people eating only one and a half servings per day.  The reduction in stroke and heart disease dropped by 30%.

If you look at the Ohio State University study, the kids aged 2-5 were the best at eating fruits and vegetables, but only 22% of this group got the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Is this a dire situation?  Absolutely!  Don’t kid yourself into thinking “My kids get the fruits and vegetables they need every day.”  If you don’t believe me, do an experiment.

Measure the amount of fruits and vegetables they take in for a week.  You probably need to do this when they’re at home for 7 days.  Here are some basic guidelines to follow:

 

                        2-3yo              4-8yo              9-13yo            14-18yo

Fruits              1 cup              1.5 cups          1.5 cups         2 cups

Vegetables     1 cup              1.5 cups          2.5 cups         3 cups

I hope you beat this challenge because it only seems to get worse as kids become adults.  Based on this chart, adults average the same amount recommended for 2 to 3 year olds.  That is definitely not a good sign.

Are you going to turn your kids onto fruits and vegetables overnight? Probably not.  This is a systematic process.  Figure out what your kids like best and start there.  Slowly over time start introducing new things to them.

The more you get your kids involved in the process of buying food, visiting orchards or growing a garden yourself, the more they will appreciate it.  One of the best ways to stay on track is by supporting your local fresh food markets and farms.  You cannot beat the taste and nutrients you get from fresh fruits and vegetables.  Stay healthy!

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My Life Would Be A Lot Easier

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