Fruits and Veggies - How much does my child need?

A healthy lifestyle is more about creating practical habits than about employing mystical formulas that you’ll soon abandon. Did you know it takes only about twenty one days to cultivate a new habit? There’s more good news: it will be easier for your kids to adjust to a new lifestyle change than you might imagine. Their habits are still forming and they may be a bit more flexible than the adults in the household.

Take It Slow
The key is to begin habits gradually. A good way to start eating more fruits and vegetables is to take advantage of the local farmer’s markets like the City Market in the River Market area (at 20 East 5th in KCMO) in my city. Farmers' Market hours on  Saturday  is 6:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 pm on Sundays. Include your young person and consider it an fun adventure. Allow them to choose new veggies to try and research recipes online. If they have a stake in the process, they’ll likely enjoy the veggies a bit more.

According to “Healthy Advice”, a popular series of patient education brochures, your child’s nutritional requirements vary from age and developmental stage.

Ages 2-3

Both boys and girls need one and half cups of fruits and vegetables each day. Be creative incorporating fruits and veggies in your child's daily food intake.

Ages 4-8

Kids in this age group should have a bit more nutrients as they continue to grow and develop. Be sure to provide them about two and half cups of vegetables daily. Now fruits are loaded with nutrients, but still contain sugar. “Healthy Advice” suggests girls have about a cup and a half of fruits while boys enjoy about two cups.

Ages 9-13
It may be easier to read this article than to persuade your teen or pre-teen to actually eat the fruits and veggies. Nevertheless, coach your girls to eat at least three cups of vegetables and boys about three and half.

Ages 14-18

Teens in this age group have fruit and veggies needs similar to yours. Three cups of veggies for girls and four cups for boys is the best rule of thumb. Boys still need a bit more fruit intake as girls. Give boys two and half cups for fruits and girls only two.

Remember, these guidelines are general and are designed for kids that get at least an hour of physical activity during the day. Be sure to chat with your child’s doctor for ideal intake strategies ideal for your child or teen.

Helpful Links:

"Twenty Best Snacks for Kids"

" Healthy Snacks for Teens"

"How to Shop the Farmer's Market"

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