By Kristen Hicks-Roof PhD, RDN and Caroline Jury BS
Let’s celebrate National Fruit and Vegetable Month by putting the rainbow on our plates.
Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, fiber and even water. Adding products will make the plate more colorful, add great taste and provide additional health benefits. The challenge most individuals have these days is getting themselves and their families to eat these nutrient dense foods. Here are some tips to encourage them:
- Be a good example. Adults and children learn more by observing their caregivers/peers; another person is more likely to eat them if they see you enjoying fruits and vegetables.
- If you’re taking your kids to the grocery store, let them help you choose one or two vegetables or fruits for the week. This allows them to have shared decision-making for meals and snacks that include produce. It may take a little longer than your usual grocery store, but it will give your child a new appreciation for these healthy treats.
- Eat fruits and vegetables for snack, why not? Here are some examples :
- Celery sticks, carrots, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, sliced squash or peas with natural peanut butter, hummus or a dressing of your choice. To add a little sweetness, add some raisins to the mixture.
- Fruit slices or whole fruit (apples, bananas, avocado, mango, pineapple, papaya, melon)
- Provide positive reinforcement by praising your child, friends and family members when they eat fruits/vegetables, especially if they try something new.
- Try a new vegetable or fruit every time you go grocery shopping, or you can make one or two a week. Another option is to visit an off-chain grocery store to see what varieties you can try. Some off-chain grocery stores include international markets (African, Caribbean, Spanish, Asian, etc.)
Exploring the different colors of fruits and vegetables is a great way to bring the rainbow to your plate. It adds color with a bonus of much-needed nutrients like vitamins and minerals to help our bodies look their best no matter what age we are. So, what color are you going to try today? You can also visit the Florida Medical Association’s Healthy Living Toolkit for more ideas on fruit and vegetable colors and their benefits: www.flmedical.org/Florida/Florida_Public/Docs/Healthy-Living-Toolkit. pdf
Kristen Hicks-Roof PhD, RDN, LDN, CLC, FAND is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Brooks College of Health at the University of North Florida.