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Food & Fitness

7 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Fruit (And Love It!)

childwithbowloffruitIf you think your kids aren’t eating enough fruit, you may be right. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 60 percent of children ate less than the recommended daily amount between 2007 and 2010.

Fruit is naturally low in calories, high in fiber, and loaded with crucial vitamins and minerals for healthy growth and development. If your child suffers from constipation, the remedy might be in the produce aisle; a 2010 study found that children who don’t like fruits and vegetables are 13 times more likely to be constipated.

How can you get your kids to eat more fruit? Telling a toddler it will help ease her constipation certainly won’t do the trick. And, the more you coax your children to eat something, the more they’ll push back. Here are seven tactics you can use to guide them without saying a word:

  1. Eat Together: If you snack on fruit in front of your kids, they’re more likely to meet their fruit and vegetable requirements, according to a new study in Appetite. Krisena Borenstein, a mother of two children aged three and four, has seen this type of role modeling work firsthand. While her kids loved berries, they wouldn’t try apples or pears. Watching their father crunch into apples eventually piqued their interest enough to want “what Daddy eats.”
  2. Keep Trying: Many children reject new foods because they’re afraid of them, not because they don’t like the taste. Don’t give up! You may need to present a new fruit 10 times or more before they’ll accept it.
  3. Slice Fruit: Your kids may be more likely to want sliced fruit than whole fruit. In a study of 14 elementary and middle schools, cafeterias that sold sliced apples saw a 71 percent jump in sales compared to schools that sold whole apples. The slicing strategy works at home too. When Borenstein asks her children if they want an apple, they’ll often say “No.” But when she cuts it up, they’ll eat it.
  4. Use Stickers: Stickers: so simple, yet so powerful. If you stick a popular cartoon character on a piece of fruit, you may find your child more excited about eating it. That’s what researchers from Cornell University found when they offered 208 children aged 8 to 11 a cookie or an apple with their lunch. When the apple had an Elmo sticker, children were nearly twice as likely to take it.
  5. Let Them Pick Their Fruit: While it’s not as exciting as plucking fruit off a tree, your children can still participate in the picking process at the market. Borenstein takes her kids to the farmers’ market, where they can sample fruit and choose the pieces they want to bring home. “Having them participate makes them more excited about eating it.”
  6. Mix It Up: Offer fruit in a variety of forms, textures and shapes. Experiment with frozen, freeze-dried, canned, fresh and dried fruit, as well as 100 percent juice and nectar, advises Jill Castle, MS, RDN, a childhood nutrition expert.
  7. Make Fun No-Cook Creations: There are easy ways to make fruit a little more exciting. Melissa Halas-Liang, MA, RDN, CDE, a nationally recognized childhood nutritionist and founder of SuperKidsNutrition.com, recommends these no-fuss frozen treats:
  • Chocolate-Berry Frozen Yogurt: Buy chocolate yogurt in the refrigerated section, stir well and freeze. Then, blend in a food processor with frozen raspberries or cherries.
  • Frozen Fruit Popsicles: Puree fruits like berries, bananas, mangos and peaches, and then freeze them in squeezable silicon Popsicle molds.

Serving Size Guide:
Children need two to three servings of fruit per day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. As a general guideline, include fruit with every meal and make half of their plate fruits and vegetables.

Toddlers (1-3 years old)
One serving equals:
¼ cup fruit: cooked, frozen or canned
½ piece fresh fruit
¼ – ½ cup of 100 percent juice (2-4 ounces)

Children 4-6 years old
One serving equals:
¼ cup fruit: cooked, frozen or canned
½ piece fresh fruit
1/3 cup of 100 percent juice

Children 7-10 years old
One serving equals:
1/3 cup fruit: cooked, frozen or canned
1 piece fresh fruit
½ cup of 100 percent juice


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