Worried that your kids might not be getting the five daily servings of fruits and vegetables recommended by Canada’s Food Guide? Tricia Lee, a registered dietitian in Vancouver (and a mom of three) advises parents to avoid getting bogged down in the daily total, and focus instead on the bigger picture. “Most kids get their overall nutrients over a three-day period,” says Tricia. “Also, the amount needed to make one serving – 3 to 4 tablespoons or the size of a child’s fist – is less than you might think.” She suggests these tips to encourage hesitant veggie eaters:
- Build on your child’s preferences. If she likes carrot sticks, try introducing foods with a similar crunchy texture, like celery, peppers, or cucumbers.
- Dip, dip, dip! Use cheese sauce, hummus, ranch dressing, and even ketchup if it will get kids to try a new veggie.
- Prepare two vegetables and let your child choose. Try to include a range of colours (green, orange, yellow, and red) to provide a variety of nutrients.
- Keep meal portions small. When your child asks for more of the main dish, you can say, “Yes, after you eat your vegetables.”
- Create age-appropriate servings – literally. The concept of “you’re three, so you need to eat three pieces” feels reasonable to kids and parents alike.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, November 2014.