Thursday, December 15, 2011

Myth: Fruit-flavored apples seem like a good way to get my child to eat more fruits.

Answer: BUSTED!

Have you seen these new apples? Yes, you can now buy apples infused with flavors such as bubble gum and grape. Something new to entice children to eat more apples, perhaps. But at about $0.80 to $1.50 per apple you might want to reconsider.

Children tend to like fruits because they are sweet. There are many varieties of apples and some are sweeter than others, so have your children try the different varieties to see if there is one they prefer. But don't get stuck on serving just apples if your children don't like them. There are many other fruits available – pears, oranges, berries, melons. There are also different forms of fruits for your children to eat – fresh, frozen, canned, dried.

If your children don’t like fruits but they eat vegetables with no fuss consider yourself lucky! Fruits and vegetables provide the same vitamins and minerals – they are low in fat and calories and good sources of a variety of nutrients, such as vitamin C and folic acid for good health. Getting your children to enjoy fruits for their natural sweetness as part of a healthy diet may help them ward off heart disease, some cancers, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Here are some tips to entice your kids to eat more fruits:

  • Let your kids be “produce pickers.” Let them help pick fruits at the store. The more they are involved in choosing them, the more likely they are to eat them at home.
  • Let your children help prepare fruits at home. Same principle as above…if they help prepare them, they are more likely to eat fruits at home.
  • Visit your local farmers market with your children. This family activity can help expose them to new fruits. Also look for "you pick it" farms/orchards in your area. In both of these environments, your children can learn about where their food comes from and have fun picking at the same time.
  • Make fresh fruits easily available. Leave apples, pears and oranges out on the counter for quick snacks.
  • Want to get your kids to go ga-ga over fruits? Prepare a fruit dip. Low-fat vanilla yogurt works great.
  • Make a fruit kebob! It’s a great way to hike up the fun quotient. Assemble fruit chunks like apples, pears, oranges and bananas on a skewer. (Little ones may need help doing this.)
  • Make food fun and creative. Your children can make fruit pizzas – spread a whole wheat tortilla with low-fat cream cheese or peanut butter, top with sliced fruit and cut into individual servings. Or spread low-fat cream cheese or peanut butter on whole wheat bread and use raisins, apples and other fruits to make funny faces.
  • Want to have your children choose fruits? They learn from watching you – eat fruits and your kids will too.
Funny face made out of fruit - make fruit fun to entice kids to eat it

Refer to Getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables on the MissouriFamilies website for more ideas.

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,, 573-882-1933

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