The United Stated government recommends we eat five servings a day of fruits and vegetables. Other sources recommend at least ten servings a day! In the Choose My Plate program, which replaced the food pyramid, the government says to “Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.”
Just how much fruit and vegetables is half your your plate?
Daily recommendations for fruit consumption based on age
- Children 2-3 years old=1cup
- Children 4-8 years old=1 to 1.5 cups
- Girls 9-18 years old=1.5 cups
- Boys 9-13 years old=1.5 cups
- Boys 14-18 years old=2 cups
Daily recommendations for vegetable consumption based on age
- Children 2-3 years old=1 cup
- 4-8 years old=1.5 cups
- Girls 9-13 years old=2 cups
- Girls 14-18 years old=2.5 cups
- Boys 9-13 years old=2.5 cups
- 14-18 years old=cups
These recommendations are based on little physical activity (less than 30 minutes a day). Your children need more if they are active.
How many fruits and vegetables do your kids eat?
My daughter is a great eater. She chose to be a vegetarian when she was five, and I never worried about her nutrition. She has recently added fish to her diet. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables is easy for her. She tries any food on her plate and choses good snacks likes carrots or a pear. My son is a different story. I call him a carb junkie. He is cautious about trying new foods. He would rather have bread or pasta than a fruit or vegetable. He picks the kale out of the pasta I make.
How to get your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables
- Add vegetables to every meal: Make sure there is at least one vegetable with every meal. Make it a vegetable on its own lightly steamed. You would be surprised how children actually prefer food that is not over-flavored. Their taste buds are more sensitive than ours. Also, add vegetables to other dishes. I always add kale to pasta or macaroni and cheese. Shredded carrot goes well on homemade plain cheese pizza.
- Make fruit part of dessert: We love sweets! Fruit goes very well with chocolate. Dessert time is a great time to pack in the fruits. From pies to crisps, to just apples with chocolate sauce or almond butter, dessert is a great opportunity to add fruit to you family’s diet.
- Don’t buy junk food: Even if you buy only healthy junk food like organic potato chips, if they are around, your family will eat them. If you want your child to reach for a piece of fruit at snack time, don’t have junk alternatives around. This is our best trick for my picky eater son. If there isn’t any bread or crackers around, he is more likely to snack on a banana or apple. My favorite snack right now is Persian cucumbers with salt.
- Serve fruity snacks: Dried and freeze-dried fruit is a great way to increase the servings of fruit your chid gets. So are smoothies. For many freeze-dried fruits, 1/4 cup equals the same serving as a 1/2 cup of fresh fruit.
We were sent [amazon_link id=”B007GYQ6SI” target=”_blank” ]Crunchies Food Company[/amazon_link] freeze-dried snacks to try in two flavors to try [amazon_link id=”B007GYQ6SI” target=”_blank” ]Mango[/amazon_link] and Roasted Veggies.
Crunchies® are created by placing frozen fruits or vegetables in a refrigerated vacuum chamber, which removes up to 97% of the moisture. What’s left is a product that retains virtually all of its nutrients and enzymes (unlike heat-drying), while maintaining its shape, intensifying its flavor and making it crispy & crunchy.Total snack food market in the U.S. is $74.5 billion, healthy snacks are estimated at $6.2 billion and growing at 31% per year – the fastest growing segment of the snack food market. By comparison, salty snacks are declining by 12% per year.
Increasing your child’s fruit and vegetable intake can only benefit their health.
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I can totally relate to this. I have 3 kids. All have their own food personalities! I will say that neither of them are particularly picky eaters, but they don’t really have a lot of options either. We do like you suggested and limit the junk food in the house. One of the things that I’ve found most helpful in getting my kids to eat healthy is to start them out that way. When they were 6 months or so, and just starting to eat table food, we never offered them a lot of junk or processed foods. The majority of their food (even as babies) was fresh, homemade simple fruits, veggies and proteins. I’m sure that because of this they haven’t formed a pallet that “expects” highly sugared, highly processed foods. Thanks so much for sharing this Jennifer!
Jennifer Lance says
Good job starting them off right! That makes it so much easier. We did that too.
A Great Article easy ways to keep your kids healthy…Thank you