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10 Ways To Add Fun To Children's Diets



With summer’s colorful produce at your fingertips, from farmers’ markets to roadside stands now is the perfect time to get kids to eat the recommended five daily servings of fruits or vegetables, nutritionists say.

Here are some ways you can do just that.

“Offering children fruit or vegetable choices empowers them to make healthy decisions regarding their diet,” says Cindy Cunningham, a nutrition expert and registered dietitian at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “Summer is the perfect time for a family to start increasing its intake of these foods because they are inexpensive and readily available.”

Lifelong impressions

Generally, adults have already formed their food preferences, but if a variety of fruits and vegetables are introduced to young children, you could make a lifelong impression upon them. In fact, children who learn to make good food choices are more likely to grow up to be healthy adults, Cunningham says.

First, she explains, remember color when you’re buying fruits and veggies. All fruits and vegetables contain disease-battling phytochemicals, which give them their color, but red, orange and green vegetables are the most nutrient dense, she says.

Thanks to those phytochemicals, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help lower the risk for n cancers, high blood pressure and eye diseases. What’s more, researchers at UT-Southwestern found that eating at least 50 daily grams of soluble fiber, which is found in fruits and vegetables, can help lower insulin levels for diabetics, Cunningham adds.

Your own diet, too

So you can’t go wrong getting fruits and vegetables into your children’s diets – as well as your own diet. Cunningham says to try these tips: 

•  Add berries and other fruits to breakfast cereals;

•  Serve a fruit salad at lunch;

•  Grill veggies along with meat;

•  Use sliced fruits and vegetables for snacks and desserts and keep them within easy reach in the refrigerator.

•  Cut fruit and vegetable offerings down to bite-size for small children.

•  Make it a game for youngsters to eat as many colors from the rainbow as they can in a day.
 
•  Have youngsters start each day with a glass of 100-percent fruit or vegetable juice. Frozen juices from concentrate are as nutritious as fresh fruits, as long as the label says “100 percent juice.”

•  Keep introducing new fruits and vegetables to children. It’s common for youngsters to love a food one day and hate it the next. Don’t force children to eat food they don’t like or they may develop a lifelong dislike for that item.

•  Let the kids pick out recipes from cookbooks and magazines for you to fix.

•  Take them on the next trip to the grocery store or farmers’ market so they can assist in finding the healthy food. 

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