August – Kids Eat Right Month

The CDC reports that 9 in 10 children do not eat enough vegetables. Do you know how many vegetables your child should be eating each day? Here is a chart from that might help:

recommended serving sizes for children

Do you have a hard time getting your child to eat veggies? You are not alone. Some people believe that children have more taste buds than us and are more sensitive to bitter foods. Unfortunately, we will never know for sure because taste cannot be measured. Just know that it is normal for kids to avoid veggies.

However, it is important to keep trying to give your child veggies, without forcing them. It could take 10-20 times of putting a veggie on your child’s plate before they try it. Keep offering your child vegetables, it may help! Being a good role model and eating your veggies is more likely to get your child to eat theirs. On the other hand, forcing kids to eat can lead to them disliking those foods. As a parent, it’s your role to offer a healthy meal, and your child gets to choose what they eat, even if they leave a plate of food behind. Let your children decide when they’re full. This will help them to stop eating when they are full and not make overeating a habit.

Here are some tricks you can try:   

  1. Make the veggies look more appealing: Check out our blog from July on food art with your kids!
  2. Make the whole plate healthy: Children are less likely to eat their vegetables when they have unhealthy food on their plate, such as chicken nuggets and french fries.
  3. Switch up the cooking method: There are many ways to prepare vegetables. Try roasted, sautéed, boiled, grilled, hot, or cold.
  4. Add flavor: Think about adding different spices, dipping sauces (like Greek yogurt-based ranch, ketchup, honey mustard, peanut butter), or even a little melted cheese on top!
  5. Let your kids help cook: Not only does this teach life skills, but they might be more interested in eating their creation!
  6. Add vegetables to meals they already love: If your child loves hamburgers, mix in some veggies into the ground meat before making the patties! Vegetables like onions, mushrooms, and black beans will add fiber, nutrients, and flavor.
  7. Have them eat veggies first: If your child often gets full before he or she gets to the veggies, consider serving the veggies first.

This may take patience but stick with it! Even if your kids aren’t eating up all the vegetables right now, that means more vegetables for you! Your kids are watching what you’re doing, eating, and saying more than you may realize.

-Amy Owens, Dietetic Intern

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Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

North Carolina State University
Agricultural and Human Sciences Department

Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES)

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