More Fruits and Veggies, Please!

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Are our busy lifestyles to blame? Certainly, if you have kids you are getting in the car to go somewhere (to a restaurant, to soccer practice, etc.). Packaged food such as chips or power bars are very convenient and there is something about opening up a package that seems so easy compared to slicing up that lonely piece of fruit. It really is just a mindset though. Once you start packing up the fruits and veggies in Tupperware containers you will get in the habit. Plus, fruits and veggies are low in calories and fill you up.

We are constantly bombarded with food advertisements and not necessarily for healthy food such as fruits and vegetables. In fact, children 2 to 11 years old are exposed to an average of 150 to 200 hours of commercial messages, or 20,000 commercials a year and the majority of these advertisement are for cereals, candies, or other sweets.

So, what is a parent to do? Role modeling is my motto. If you are eating your fruits and vegetables, your children will too. In 2002, researchers at Pennsylvania State University examined parental pressure ("finish your vegetables" or "do as I say") vs. role modeling ("do as I do") among 191 five year old girls. The results showed that a daughter's fruit and vegetable intake was positively related to their parent's reported fruit and vegetable intake.

So what can you do this week?

Get your kids involved:

Have them choose the veggies and fruit they want when you are at the store.

Let the kids create a fruit kebob for a snack. Lay out the different fruit in an assembly line. Try pineapple, grapes, sliced strawberries, and more.

Create a rainbow chart with different colors representing the different fruit. When you eat blueberries, mark this down in the blue section.

Plan to go to the farmers market this weekend.

Have your kids create a fruit salad; this is great for building motor skills in young children (remember to slice grapes in half as they can be a choking hazard for young kids).

Keep a chart and see how easy it is to get fruit and veggies into your diet. Here are examples of one serving of fruit or veggie: a small banana, 6 strawberries, 1/4 cup of raisins, 1/2 cup of mini carrots or broccoli.

Grow your own fruit and veggies. Go to your local nursery and purchase seeds. If you have a small back yard, just use pots. Home grown veggies really taste great.

Buy one less packaged item (crackers) and replace it with kiwis or some sugar snap peas.

Add sliced bananas on top of pancakes.

Try making fresh applesauce (link to recipe?)