Getting enough vegetables and fruit is just as important for children’s health as getting regular physical activity. Eating a diet rich in vegetable fruit following the Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide can help children:
Get the vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, and overall energy they need to be physically active and play. Nutrients provided by vegetables and fruit include carbohydrates, vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium and some B vitamins such as folate.
Be more alert and ready to learn at school. Children who eat healthier perform better at school.
Reduce their risk for chronic diseases such as certain types of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. This type of diet is also linked to healthy weights.
Help children eat healthier by making vegetables and fruits a part of their everyday lives. Children should:
Eat a mix of different vegetables and fruit each day. It is important to have at least one dark green vegetable (like broccoli, romaine lettuce, green peas and spinach) and one orange vegetable (like sweet potatoes, carrots and winter squash) each day. Frozen and canned vegetables are generally as nutritious as fresh vegetables.
Choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt. Vegetables that are steamed, baked or stir-fried are better choices than deep fried.
Have whole vegetables and fruit more often than juice. Water is the healthier drink of choice – fruit juice can contain as much sugar and calories as soft drinks.
Check out these tips to help “Choose to Boost Veggies and Fruit” at home:
Be Prepared – Involve children in picking and preparing healthy snacks and school lunches. Let them choose which veggies and fruit they want packed. Pack meals and snacks for your day and leave a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter for an easy grab-and-go snack! Plan meals around veggies and fruit, and eat together as often as you can. Visit the Public Health Resource Library and Dietitians of Canada’s Cookspiration to find some great resources and recipes.
Be Brave – Encourage your children to try different kinds of veggies and fruit. Most children need to try a new food eight-to-10 times before they like it. Give veggies the leading role! Show your children how to fill half their plate with veggies and fruit at meals.
Be A Role Model – If your child sees you eating vegetables and fruit, he or she will be more likely to eat them too. Think about starting a food garden or getting involved in a school garden or community garden. When you involve children in growing and preparing their own veggies and fruits they are more likely to enjoy eating these foods! See for yourself with this video from the Waterloo Region School Community Gardens project.