How can I get my children to eat the fruits and veggies I put in her lunch? How much is enough?

It’s common for kids to dislike or refuse to eat some fruits and vegetables. Your best bet is to be a good role model by eating the green stuff yourself (and at least acting like you enjoy it!). Here are a few tips to get your child to eat more fruits and vegetables:

- Cut veggies into triangles, circles and other fun shapes.

- Cook vegetables until they’re tender-crisp; overcooking saps vitamins and makes the taste, texture and odor less appetizing.

- Stuff raw vegetables with peanut butter, cream cheese, egg or tuna.

- Toss grated or diced vegetables into soups, stews, pizzas or meat dishes.

- Ask your child to dress the salad or stir the potatoes. If she makes it, she’ll be more willing to eat it.

- Start a small backyard vegetable garden and ask your child to supervise.

- Encourage your child to pick out a fun fruit or vegetable when you’re shopping.

- Add one or two great finger foods to your child’s lunch box: broccoli, zucchini sticks, carrot sticks, cucumber, tomato wedges, green beans, peas in the pod, apple wedges, orange slices and grapes.

How many servings:

The Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children, for kids between 2 and 6 years, recommends three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit each day.

Children over age 6 can follow the regular Food Guide Pyramid: three to five servings of foods from the vegetable group and two to four servings from the fruit group.

Serving sizes:

Aim to get one serving of fruit and one serving of veggies into your child’s lunch box. A serving size is considered:

- 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice

- 2 cups of raw leafy greens

- 1/2 cup of dried fruit

- 1 cup of fruit or 100 percent fruit juice

Unfortunately, fruit juice doesn’t contain the fiber and antioxidants found in whole and cut-up fruits. Serve your child no more than 1/2 to 3/4 cup (4 to 6 ounces) of 100 percent fruit juice per day.

The good news:

Children’s tastes change quickly. Serve larger quantities of their favorite vegetables, but keep giving out some veggies they don’t like (familiarity sometimes leads to acceptance). Avoid threatening or bribing your child with dessert; this makes veggies seem like an icky food that must be eaten to get to the good stuff. And always praise your child for trying new foods. A little encouragement goes a long way.

Which fruits and veggies do your kids refuse to eat? Do you have tricks to get them to eat their greens?

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Parenting - How to Make Sure Your Children Eat Enough Vegetables