Doctor’s Tip: How to get kids to eat their veggies
The column two weeks ago was how eating fruit and veggies can enhance your child’s immunity and prevent acute illnesses, such as colds and ear infections. Last week’s column was about how eating fruit and vegetables as children helps prevent many adult-onset diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Those of us who have children and grandchildren know that the big question is: How do we get kids to eat fruit and veggies?
Michael Greger, M.D. has the following evidence-based suggestions:
Children eat more fruits and veggies if their parents do, so parents, eat your veggies (and fruit).
“Simply having healthy foods out and available can boost intake,” even when unhealthy food is also available such as at a birthday party.
Cut veggies into slices, sticks or stars.
Putting Elmo stickers on veggies in one study “swayed 50 percent of children to choose broccoli over a chocolate bar.”
Call foods by kid-friendly names such as “X-ray vision carrots” or “power punch broccoli.”
Dip veggies in unprocessed peanut butter.
Veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, squash and zucchini can be added covertly to various entrees.
In his book “How to Disease-Proof Your Child,” Joel Fuhrman, M.D., has a chapter called “reforming the picky eater,” which includes the following suggestions:
Permit only healthy food in the house.
Persist in getting kids to try new foods, which studies show often takes 8-15 attempts.
Offer only healthy snacks, such as fruit; vegetables; bean and nut dips; wholesome soups; and raw, unsalted nuts.
Avoid unwholesome treats, e.g. “If you eat all your veggies you can have ice cream for dessert.”
Here are a couple of my own suggestions, from years of being a parent and grandparent:
Organic edamame (soy beans) is a healthy snack every kid will eat. You can buy bags of frozen edamame at most grocery stores.
Berries are another healthy snack that kids will eat.
Carrot sticks, sweet peppers and celery sticks dipped in hummus with no added oil (e.g. the Engine 2 Plant Strong brand at Whole Foods, or make your own), makes a healthy snack.
If your child participates in sports, tell them about all the elite athletes who are eating fruit, veggies and whole grains to enhance performance (you get the most nutrients per calorie that way).
If you’re a grandparent, it’s fine to spoil your grandkids a little, but their current and future health suffers if you use unhealthy food to spoil them.
Dr. Feinsinger, who retired from Glenwood Medical Associates after 42 years as a family physician, has a nonprofit Center For Prevention and Treatment of Disease Through Nutrition. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention and any other medical concerns. Call 970-379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his columns, email him at email@example.com.