Tips to Encourage Your Child to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Registered Dietitians (RDs) from the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Clinical Nutrition department present eating tips and articles and links to other great websites for nutrition information, ideas, fun and games. 
August 2011
Late last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services revealed the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and now they have replaced the Food Pyramid with another approach, MyPlate. Both concepts are science-based and their goals are to:

  • Promote health
  • Reduce chronic disease
  • Reduce overweight and obesity

The new guidelines suggest that half of our plate should be vegetables and fruits. We offer these tips to help increase your family's intake of fruits and vegetables to meet these new guidelines:

  • Be a good role model.
    • Serve vegetables and/or fruits often, preferably at each meal and snack
    • Let your kids see you make good food choices and eat your vegetables and fruits also
    • Do not force kids to eat fruits or vegetables, or criticize or draw unnecessary attention to them if they don’t. Just serve them and eat them. They should be a natural part of your day.

  • Vary the vegetables and fruits that you serve to keep it interesting. Try recipes that incorporate a variety of colors and tastes, herbs, spices and ethnicities to keep expanding your child's sense of food adventure.

  • Buy fresh vegetables and fruits in season for lower cost and better flavor. 
    • Take your kids to a farmers market or a local farm so that they can see where foods come from
    • Let them help select what to buy and help prepare foods when possible
    • Grow a small garden and let children harvest their own food

  • Stock up on frozen vegetables for quick preparation when needed. 
    • Buy prewashed greens and add baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers and sweet peppers for a quick salad
    • Microwave, steam or sauté vegetables to a slightly crunchy texture

  • Keep dried, frozen and canned fruits (packed in juice) on hand. These can provide an easy meal addition, topping, snack or smoothie.

  • Add fruits and vegetables to existing favorites. Try:
    • Topping cereal with fruit
    • Adding fruit to pancakes or yogurt
    • Making kabobs
    • Trying apples, carrots, bananas, or celery with peanut butter or a yogurt dip
    • Adding fruit such as oranges, pink grapefruit, grapes, pineapple, mango and strawberries to green salads

Recipe Idea

Your child can add the ingredients together, mix and be the taste tester!

Coleslaw with Pineapple Chunks

  1. Thinly slice or chop 1/3-1/2 small cabbage
  2. Grate and add 1 medium carrot
  3. Add 1 cup fresh or canned pineapple chunks
  4. Add mayonnaise, vinegar, small amount of sugar to taste or a favorite slaw dressing