We are all well aware that the new school year is right around the corner. No matter what age they are, it’s a great time to start thinking about building some new healthy eating habits. Perhaps it goes without saying that they younger they are, the easier it will be to build those habits!
According to the USDA, most toddlers get enough fruit. But, by the time they’re 4 years old, they’re not eating near enough. And, the problem gets worse, the older they get.
Making sure that fruit is available for school snacking, in their lunch and for after-school snacking can help teach healthy eating habits they’ll use for life. It also helps deliver the vitamins and minerals healthy kids need to grow and play. Finally, getting enough of the right kinds of fruit can promote good, proper digestion, help kids feel full, and maintain a healthy weight be given them dietary fiber.
What can we do to help teach our kids to reach for the right things? You might start by offering the right things:
- Fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and freeze-dried fruits are all great choices.
You can introduce kids to the whole rainbow of fruits and let the kids decide which unique flavors are their favorites. Giving a few choices every day helps them discover what they like and get the nutrition they need.
- Limit the fruit juice.
Kids probably shouldn’t have more than 1/2-cup (4 oz) serving of 100% juice, once per day. While 100% fruit juice can be a part of the healthy diet, it doesn’t have the dietary fiber that other forms of fruit does.
- Power up with potassium.
Fruits like bananas, dried plums, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, nectarines, raspberries, and orange juice are all great sources of potassium. Getting enough potassium helps kids maintain a healthy blood pressure.
Not all fruit is created equal.
There are tons of fruit and fruit flavored snacks on grocery store shelves. But it’s buyer-beware! Many of these snacks have a lot of added sugars, flavors, colors, and preservatives in them!
It’s easy for kids to get too many added sugars from foods and beverages that they’re around every day. The extra calories from these added sugars can make kids feel full before they’ve had the chance to get the nutrients they need from other foods. These extra calories also make it tough for them to maintain a healthy weight. Some of the snacks that really load up on the extra sugars are the chewy or “gummy” fruit snacks and “fruit-flavored” drinks.
Fruits are naturally sweet, so it can be easy to get kids to eat them without adding sweeteners like sugar, corn syrup, and honey.
- Try serving fresh fruit more often than fruit-based desserts like fruit pies, cobblers and baked crisps.
- Look for fruit canned in water or 100% fruit juice instead of syrup
- Try unsweetened applesauce with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon on top
- Use frozen fruit that doesn’t contain added sugars
- Choose 100% fruit juice instead of fruit-flavored drinks or soda
- Stay away from “gummy” or chewy fruit snacks, strips, fruit drops, candy, or sweets.
- Hard fruit chunks, chewy fruit snacks, and many candies pose choking hazards – keep these away from small children!
- For a great, easy way to serve 100% whole fresh fruit, take a look at the Brothers All Natural line of freeze dried fruit. There’s no added sugars, no preservatives – just 100% fruit in every bag.
Yeah, right. My kids aren’t going to eat that.
It can take a bit of time for new foods to be accepted. Kids won’t always eat new foods right away. There are a few ways that you might be able to encourage some interest in eating healthier:
- Make food fun and be sure fruits are easy to eat.
You can work together with your kids to make a rainbow fruit salad with a wide range of colors and fruits. Add crushed pineapple, mandarin oranges, or apples to salad mix or coleslaw.
- Have a “Fruit Tasting Day.” Grab several unique fruits the next time you’re at the grocery store. Try unique, new things like kiwifruit, black grapes, blackberries, pomelo, or lychees.
- Concerned about buying all that fruit just to let it go to waste, if your kids don’t like it? Try a Brothers All Natural Freeze Dried Sampler to get a wide assortment of great fruit without the fuss of worrying that it will go bad.
- Cook together. Kids learn more about fruits and vegetables when they help prepare them. Young kids can help rinse fruits and make “faces” out of pieces of fruits. Pick kitchen tasks that match your kids abilities: mash bananas, peel fruits, or mix ingredients for a fruit salad.
- Practice what you preach! Remember – your kids learn from watching you! So, grab some fruit and show them how it’s done!
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