PROMOTING HEALTHY WEIGHT: GET YOUR KIDS TO EAT (AND ENJOY) MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month – an opportunity to raise awareness about the state of children’s health across the country and explore ways to promote healthy weight and lifestyles.
Here at Double Up Food Bucks Arizona, we love fresh produce, and we love sharing ways to eat more of it. One of the best ways to promote healthy weight for your family every day is by adding more fruits and vegetables to your meals. Whether you have a picky eater at home, or you need a little help getting creative with your produce, these tips can help you add a healthy kick to any dish.
1. Add healthy veggies to familiar meals
If your kids cringe at the sight of broccoli, it can be a battle to add healthy portions of veggies to their meals. One of the best ways to introduce new veggies is by incorporating them into dishes your kids already enjoy. Start small by adding new ingredients a little at a time. Chop up a few florets of broccoli and sneak them into everyone’s favorite mac and cheese, or shred some summer squash and add it to a plate of pasta. Your kids will enjoy their favorite meals and get a healthy dose of vegetables at the same time!
There are tons of ways to add veggies to any meal. Avoid the mealtime struggle and promote healthy eating with these clever ideas.
2. Get creative!
We get it – healthy fruits and vegetables can seem boring sometimes. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to spice up healthy produce. How do you make a slice of zucchini enticing for a seven-year-old? Try turning them into crispy baked zucchini fries!
Don’t be afraid to get creative. This website has tips for making fresh snacks fun and colorful. Try making a themed veggie tray, or involve the kiddos with build-your-own fruit kabobs. Involving your kids in the kitchen while you prepare these healthy snacks is a great family activity and will help them connect with the food they are eating. When you make healthy food exciting, they might just forget that they're eating those “boring” old fruits and veggies.
3. Be prepared
Prepping lunches and snacks is a great way to save time and promote healthier choices. Prepping is a good opportunity to get your kids interested in a healthy diet, and make lunch packing easier. Slice all of your fruits and veggies at the beginning of the week and package them in snack-sized portions. You can throw these into the lunchbox in the morning and encourage your children to reach for the ready-made healthy snacks instead of a bag of chips.
Our very own Jessie Gruner has some wonderful ideas for getting your kids to love their lunch.
“Thinking about lunches in terms of the meal components can help save time planning and packing,” she said. As often as possible, “lunches should have the following meal components: fruit, vegetable, grain, protein, dairy. Make a list of food items from each component and then mix and match to create variety.”
This video also has some creative ideas to make your life easier and offer your kids a healthy and nutritious lunch.
4. Double up on delicious and healthy fruits and vegetables!
If you’re a SNAP/EBT customer, don’t forget to visit your local participating farmers market to double up on locally-grown fruits and veggies. To make the visit more entertaining for the kids, encourage them pick out your produce! Let them explore the colorful, fresh options at each stand and choose the produce that looks the best to them. Once you get home, invite them help you prepare the food. This can help develop an added interest in healthy food options, and will leave them excited to hit the farmers market again for more fresh finds and activities.
With all of these tactics, promoting a healthy diet and weight for your family can be a breeze. Next time you’re picking up groceries for your meals, double up on the produce, and double up on healthy, delicious dishes all week long!