Is your child eating enough fruits and veggies? Probably not, study says.
Pat Palmisano, a registered dietitian at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, offers tips for adding more produce to your child’s diet.
We all know that eating fruits and vegetables is good for the health of our children.
Federal guidelines recommend between 1 to 2.5 cups of fruit and 1 to 4 cups of vegetables daily, depending upon the child’s age, gender and level of physical activity.
(Go to www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov to see exactly how much produce your child should consume.)
Unfortunately, many children do not consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, according to a study in the March issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
The study also noted that children should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, although this, too, was not happening. Only 8 percent of vegetables consumed by children of all ages were dark green or orange, for example, whereas fried potatoes constituted about 46 percent of their total vegetable intake.
Vegetable servings, however, should be made up of plenty of dark green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, orange vegetables including carrots and sweet potatoes, and dry beans and peas including kidney and pinto beans.
The benefits of eating fruits and vegetables are plentiful – they’re low in calories, packed with nutrients and have been shown to lower the risk of chronic diseases. It is critical that your child gets into the habit now of eating a lot of produce if they are to mature into healthy adults.
Here are some easy ways to get more produce into your child’s diet:
Soups and stews – Now is the perfect time of year for this type of comfort food. Be creative and clean out your produce drawer. You can add a variety of vegetables including carrots, cabbage, spinach and celery. Other good additions are onions, winter squash, potatoes, and tomatoes. Add chicken, lean beef or beans for additional protein.
Roasted vegetables - Vegetables oven-roasted at high temperatures with a small amount of olive oil and garlic are sure to be a palate pleaser. For extra flavor, add fresh herbs or a generous splash of balsamic vinegar. Add chicken or a can of chick peas and some grated cheese and serve over brown rice or whole-grain macaroni to round out the meal.
Stir fry - Try a medley of red peppers, green beans and eggplant or cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and mushrooms. Serve as a side dish or make it a meal by serving it with rice or using it as a topping for a baked potato.
Salad - Add a rainbow of colors to their salad bowl. Carrots, red onions, mushrooms, cucumbers, salad greens, tomatoes, red cabbage and zucchini are rich in color and flavor.
Fruits – Add healthful foods to items that children already love. Use apples or bananas when making muffins. Slip diced apples into that chicken salad sandwich.
The following Web sites offer additional healthful eating tips:
By experimenting with different fruits and vegetables and various cooking techniques, you’ll be on your way to helping your child meet their daily produce quota with little effort and lots of enjoyment.
Registered Dietitian Pat Palmisano is a health and wellness consultant at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. For more tips on staying healthy, visit www.excellusbcbs.com.