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5 Ways to Add Easy Vegetable and Fruits to Your Child’s Diet
We’ve all heard the slogan “5 A Day” from the United States Department of Agriculture for years. But did you know that the recommendation has been increased to 7 to 13 servings A DAY? This can seem overwhelming to the average parent!
Why do we really need so many fruits and vegetables?
Fruits and vegetables are full of important nutrients that can help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
DID YOU KNOW:
1. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 20 million children and adults have diabetes.
2. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 64% of adults are overweight.
3. According to the American Heart Association, more than 80 million Americans have some form of heart disease.
4. According to the Bogalusa Heart Study, it is estimated that by the age of 12, 70% of our children have developed the initial stages of hardening of the arteries.
5. According to the International Journal of Obesity, nearly 50% of obese teenagers remain obese into adulthood.
These are amazing facts!
Make sure you and your family are on the right path to better health with these 5 easy ways to add fruits and vegetables to your diet:
1. STUFFING: Make sure you have fresh fruits and vegetables close at hand on the LOW shelf of your refrigerator so kids can easily access them. Make a tasty after school snack like Ants on a Log (celery with peanut butter and raisins) or Potted Plants (a small bowl of hummus with baby carrots and parsley on top for “leaves”) Kids LOVE fun foods! Why do you think they sell so many foods with cartoon characters?
2. MIRROR: Allow your children to see you eating vegetables and fruits. The more children see their parents eating healthy foods, the more they will model this behavior. The “Do as I say, not as I do” model DOESN’T WORK! You need fruits and vegetables every day just like they do. So, EAT!
3. COOKING: Simply adding a handful of greens to an omelet or a few berries to your oatmeal can be an easy way to add more produce to your diet. Try adding carrot and squash puree to your spaghetti sauce, or make a smoothie with low-fat yogurt, berries, ice, and even some greens like kale and cucumber. (My kids drink it straight and would NEVER eat kale on its own! I even make popsicles out of smoothies in the summer months.)
4. GARDENING: Starting a backyard garden is a great way to get kids involved in what they eat. Growing vegetables gives children a sense of pride and encourages them to eat what they have grown. My kids can’t wait to get out in the garden and pick fresh veggies and herbs for our summer dinners!
5. MEAL PLANNING: When planning meals, it is a priority to include as many fruits and vegetables as possible. Serve a vegetable soup or side salad with your meal, or a fruit cup with frozen yogurt for dessert. Prepare kabobs for the grill or roast root vegetables in the oven as a tasty side dish.
Making simple changes to your family’s diet will not only improve their health, but also improve their happiness.
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