Getting Smart About: Vegetables

If someone were to ask you whether vegetables are good for your health, you would likely answer- Absolutely!

If that same someone asked you why vegetables are important, you would probably answer-Vegetables contain a lot of vitamins and nutrients, are a good source of fiber, have very little sugar or fat and no cholesterol.

If pressed further for details like whether a tomato is actually a fruit or vegetable, you might remember that great quote: “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”

But if you are asked whether your family eats enough vegetables, you may be like so many others and have to honestly answer- No.

So what can be done to help make vegetables a more regular part of the family daily diet? Here are three suggestions:

  1. Know your veggies—while everyone should generally strive to make half your plate fruits and vegetables, the recommended amount of vegetables differs depending on age, gender and activity level. Also the type of vegetable matters.
    Fun fact check: Which should you eat more of: dark green vegetables or red and orange vegetables? Both types are important and chock full of nutrients but the weekly recommended intake of dark green vegetables is 1.5 cups whereas the weekly intake of red and orange veggies is 5.5 cups (for a 9-13 year old boy).

    See more at the USDA’s Choose My Plate: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/vegetables.html
  2. Make veggies fun—It is estimated that children need to be exposed to a certain food at least ten times before they are willing to try it. If you get creative, perhaps you can help your kids get interested (or, at least, not fight against) eating vegetables.
    Before your next BBQ, let your child make his/her own veggie kabob. Sweeten the deal by adding some pineapple as well. 

    http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet11KidFriendlyVeggiesandFruits-BlkAndWht.pdf
  3. Help your child grow vegetables—there is something uniquely delicious about food you have grown yourself. Plus, it is fun to watch the daily progress from planting to harvest. It really does not take much time or effort, just a bit of daily attention.

Don’t have a garden plot? No problem! Try vertical gardening. http://www.kidsgardening.org/activity/grow-vertical-veggie-gardens-are-rise

– Megan Richardson, Family Nurse Practitioner

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