How to Get Kids Interested in Fruits and Veggies
By Calgary Registered Dietitian / Online Nutritionist Kate Chury
One of my favourite mom dietitian things to do with my kids when grocery shopping is to let them pick out a new (or new-to-them) fruit or veggie (it usually ends up being a fruit). While I’d love for them to pick out more vegetables, I’m a realist and know starting with fruit is a good way to feed their curiosity when it comes to new food (plus if they are bugging me to buy them something sweet, fruit is a good compromise).
For obvious reasons, my kid’s don’t get much say in what goes into our grocery cart, otherwise my cart would be filled with lots of processed or sugary foods. As a mom (and a dietitian) I love giving them a little freedom to pick out a new food item and the produce section is a good place to start. Of my children, one especially isn’t the most adventurous eater but this is one way that he has become interested in trying new foods.
One of our recent “kid’s choice” purchases was pomegranate. I’m pretty sure my kids have had pomegranate arils before but they’ve never had seen the fruit in its whole form. I loved seeing how interested the kids were the exploring the pomegranate as we cut it open and gently removed its jewel-like seeds. The look of satisfaction on their faces as they devoured the pomegranate was priceless. It’s moments like these that I hope continue to spark their curiosity when it comes to trying new foods.
While this is an activity that I do with my kids, there is nothing to say that adults can’t do the same. If you’re like most people (myself included), the fruits and veggies you buy tend to be similar week after week. With most grocery store produce sections offering a huge variety of fruits and vegetables, it’s a shame that we often aren’t more adventurous when it comes to our produce selection.
For some people, buying new-to-them vegetables, in particular, can be intimidating simply because of not knowing what to do with them. I’m here to say that you don’t need to let not knowing how to prepare a vegetable stop you from giving it a try. In the past, I’ve sometimes just purchased a new veggie that I’ve been eyeing, which has been enough motivation for me to look into how to prepare it when I get home. Most vegetables can be prepared with little or no other “extra” ingredients, so you don’t have to worry too much about not having other ingredients to cook them. Fruit doesn’t usually have the same problem as most can be enjoyed as is. This is why becoming more adventurous in the fruit department is usually a little easier, especially if you aren’t feeling confident in the kitchen.
Not only does expanding the variety of fruits and vegetables you eat expose you to a potentially greater array of nutrients, it makes meals more interesting and has an added bonus of benefiting your gut microbiome. Research shows that those who eat a greater variety of fruits, vegetables and plant-based foods have a more diverse and healthier gut environment.
Exploring your produce department is definitely worth your time. Admittedly, sometimes you’ll try things that you don’t love (for me it was sunchokes) but other times you may be delighted that you’ve found something else that you, and maybe even your family, enjoys (for me it was jicama).
Why not make a goal of picking out a new fruit or vegetable every week?
If you are seeking support about kids nutrition or to help make family meal planning simple, we can help. We specialize in health without guilt or complexity. Our Calgary Dietitian / Online Nutritionist team can work with you in person at our Calgary office or online through our virtual private and secure video conferencing services. Contact Us.