Fruits & Vegetables

Eat 5 Fruits and Vegetables a Day!

Check out our new resource on how to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your family's daily diet! 

Feeding Your Picky Eater

Want your kids to eat healthy, but feel like its a constant battle? It's really not so hard to turn your picky eater into a healthy eater with just a little thought, planning and patience. Kids have unique preferences for food colors, textures and presentation, and if you work with those preferences you can have fun exploring new food options while setting your child up for a lifetime of healthy eating.

Start Early and Keep Trying. Younger children are often more open to new foods, so introduce the widest possible variety early on. And don't give up just because he or she spits it out the first, second, even third time around. It can take as many as ten exposures for a child to develop a taste for a new food.

Serve New Foods with an Old Favorite. Kids will be more willing to try something unfamiliar if it comes alongside the comfort of an old favorite.

Serve Small Portions and Don't Force a Clean Plate. Just a bite or two of any food seems do-able, even if it's new and strange. If they like it, you can always give them more. But don't force them to eat everything on their plate - kids should learn to liste when their bodies say they're full.

Keep Healthy Foods Available, But Don't Restrict Certain Foods. Make sure that there are plenty of ready-to-eat fresh, frozen, drived or canned frits and vegetables in the house that the kids can snack on any time. However, it's not necssary to completely restrict all treats since that will just cause the kids to want them more. Just make sure that the cookies and candy are occasional, small indulgences.

Offer Options. Rather than battle with your child to eat their broccoli, give them the choice between broccoli or string beans. They are more likely to eat whichever one they picked, just because they picked it.

Offer Stickers for Trying New Fruits and Vegetables. Studies show that young children are more willing to try new foods and more likely to enjoy new foods if they are rewarded with stickers.

Get the Kids Involved. Let them help with the grocery shopping. Give them the opportunity to pick out a new fruit vegetable to try. Get them in the kitchen to help you prepare food. Praise their culinary efforts, even if all they did was sprinkle on the seasoning, and watch them gobble up whatever they just prepared!

Prepare Food in Healthy, Kid Friendly Ways. Kids are very particular about texture, so avoid serving them mushy vegetables and fruits. While the texture and taste of friend foods is very appealing you can achieve the same sensation with the healthier option of baking. Some other preparation methods that particularly appeal to kids include:

  • Boil or steam veggies - kids love the crunchy texture and vibrant colors.
  • Bake up some crispy veggie chips.
  • Roasting vegetables tends to bring out the sweetness - this may help make vegetables more palatable to children who are particularly averse to bitter tastes.
  • Adding fruit to salads will make kids more likely to eat the greens.
  • Kids love to dip, so provide hummus, yogurt, or low-fat dressings to dip crunchy veggie sticks or fruit wedges.
  • Use fruits and vegetables to make baked goods, pancakes, meatloaf - there are lots of places to hide them! Just be sure to let the kids know what they're eating so they get familiar with the idea of eating fruits and vegetables.
Presentation is Important. Kids have very specific preferences about how food should be presented. For example:
  • Kids like diversity; they prefer seven different items and six difference colors on their plate.
  • Put the food toward the front of the plate rather than the center. Better yet, arrange it in a design or pattern.
  • Create cool names, like 'broccoli trees', 'princess peas' or 'x-ray carrots' that appeal to kids' sense of humor.
  • Keep each item separate if your child is sensitive to different foods touching each other. A plate divided into separate compartments can be even more fun.
  • Have fun with food. Play games describing food by color, shape, and nutrition rather than taste. Sort the groceries by color, texture, or food group. Do blindfood taste tests. Learn where food comes from; visit a farm or vegetable garden. Read books about food together.
Be a Role Model. A recent study found that 2 and 3-year-old children's food preferences are significantly related to foods that they mothers liked, disliked, and never tasted. So, the more excitement and enjoyment that you express about fruits and vegetables, the more likely your child will want to eat them too!