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Fortifying your child with fruits & veggies

January 22, 2018

Did you know?

Research shows that watching a lot of TV is associated with children and teenagers drinking more soft drink and not eating enough fruit and vegetables.

How many serves do kids and teens need?

All of us need to eat a variety of different coloured fruit and vegies every day – both raw and cooked. The recommended daily amount for kids and teens depends on their age, appetite and activity levels – see table below.

Recommended serves of fruit and vegetables by age

Fruit(serves/day) Vegetables
Girls Boys Girls Boys
2-3 1 1 21/2 21/2
4-8 11/2 11/2 41/2 41/2
9-11 2 2 5 5
12-18 2 2 5 51/2

One serve of fruit is 150 grams (equal to 1 medium-sized apple; 2 smaller pieces (e.g. apricots); 1 cup of canned or chopped fruit; ½ cup (125ml) 99% unsweetened fruit juice; or 1½ tablespoons dried fruit).

One serve of vegetables is 75 grams (equal to ½ cup cooked vegetables; ½ medium potato; 1 cup of salad vegetables; or ½ cup cooked legumes (dried beans, peas or lentils).

Some ideas to try:

  • Set the right example. Setting the right example to get children to eat right requires parental self-discipline. Parents need to provide loving and firm guidance in making healthy and wise choices regarding food and snacks. Offer your toddler many
    different types of foods and letting them see you eat and enjoy various foods, especially fruit and vegetables.
  • Provide necessary discipline. Children typically do not like changes being made to their routines, so expect children to express their dislike to newly implemented changes in the family meal plan. Calmly explain that “this is what we’re having for dinner”,and
    if children adamantly refuse to eat the planned meal, simply cover it and save it for when they say they’re hungry.
  • Try a different vegetable every day and prepare it in different ways. Involve your child in deciding the menu for the day. Give them options to select what they would like to eat. Also give options for serving it raw, baked, steamed, grilled, in salad,
    in juice form, stir-fried and boiled.
  • Mix them in your child’s favorite meal. If your child likes macaroni and cheese, make it with steamed broccoli or peas mixed in. If your child likes spaghetti, mix in real tomatoes, mushrooms, or peas and carrots into the sauce. Sometimes mixing right
    into their favorite foods makes them eat it without even noticing.
  • Offer vegetables and fruit with dip. Most children love to dip items (i.e French fries in ketchup) so provide them dipping choices such as a salad dressing they might like and let them dip away. Always make vegetables ready to eat and available with lunch,
    dinner, and snack. By having them readily, available your child will eat when they are ready.
  • Make vegetable and fruit interesting to eat. Try edible faces with carrot circles for eyes, strips of pepper for eyebrows, baby sweet corn for the nose and broccoli pieces for the mouth. Kids will enjoy helping with the composition, especially if you
    deliberately make a few anatomical mistakes.
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Communicating with young childrenFruits and vegetables improve children’s nutrition

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