September is Fruits & Veggies – More Matters Month, and it’s a great month to start working towards a healthier diet by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into every meal. With kids back at school, it’s also a great time to encourage children to make healthy choices when they’re away from home too. A lot of children – and adults – don’t eat the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. In fact, the Produce for Better Health Foundation reports that up to 90 percent of children and adults do not eat enough fruits and veggies. During the month of September, turn that statistic around by getting everyone in the family to include more healthy foods into their breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Getting Kids Into Healthy Eating Habits
It can be difficult for parents to get their children to eat enough produce, especially vegetables. But luckily there are fun ways to get your children involved in shopping, preparing, cooking and eating fruits & veggies.
Shopping in the produce section or at a farmer’s market with kids can be fun when you let them pick out new fruits and veggies to try, and let them help you select the produce you already plan to buy. Involving kids at the store will help them learn more about produce like where it comes from and when it’s ripe.
Preparing meals with your kids is another great way to get them involved in the healthy eating process. The tasks you let them help with will depend on their age. Young kids might have fun mashing potatoes, ripping lettuce leaves, or measuring frozen vegetables. Older kids may enjoy the responsibility of chopping vegetables, arranging salads and mixing in spices. Kids are more likely to continue healthy eating habits when they learn hands-on how to prepare healthy foods.
When it comes to serving food, remember that half your plate should be filled with fruits or veggies for all meals and snacks. Working more fruits and veggies into your diet is easy, and can often enhance the flavor of your dish! Here are a few methods to try:
- Mix up a fruit smoothie for breakfast (you can even mix in greens like spinach or kale and will hardly notice them!)
- Add frozen, canned or fresh vegetables into your favorite casseroles
- Top burgers, tacos and other foods with tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, onions, or other vegetables
- Add raisins, cranberries or other dried fruit to your oatmeal
- Top salad with strawberries, apples, or dried fruit and pair with a sweet vinaigrette or poppy seed dressing
- If you favor chips and dip, try adding carrots, broccoli, and other vegetables to your plate to dip
- If you’re making soup, experiment by throwing in additional chopped vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, green beans, corn, potatoes, kale, celery, or peas
Eating More Fruits & Veggies Improves Health
Although there is not definitive research on the exact effect diet has on health risks, we know that a healthy diet can have a preventative effect for some diseases. One of these is childhood obesity. In the last 30 years, childhood obesity rates have tripled. This is a serious problem because it means that obese children are facing shorter expected lifespans than their parents due to the complications of obesity. Encouraging healthy eating habits can be a great way to help combat the obesity problem in our country.
A healthy diet can be beneficial in reducing children’s risk for other health conditions as well. Because diet is directly related to body weight, maintaining a healthy weight is important in avoiding certain health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Although many childhood health conditions are not caused by diet, childhood diet and the habits people form during childhood affect their future health.
A great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce health risks is to maintain a healthy body weight, consume at least five cups of fruits and vegetables per day, and keep your diet low in red meats, trans fats and charred foods.
You Can Help Children With Life Threatening Medical Conditions
At Wheels For Wishes, we care about children’s health and like to share information about healthy lifestyles with our supporters. We also support Make-A-Wish through our car donation program. When you donate a car, truck, boat, RV or motorcycle, we auction or recycle it and the proceeds go to your local Make-A-Wish to help grant wishes for children facing critical illnesses. If you have an unwanted vehicle, you can put it towards a great cause by calling 1-877-431-9474 or filling out an easy online donation form. In addition to it helping Make-A-Wish grant more wishes for deserving kids, your donation will also give you a great tax deduction and fast, free pick-up of your vehicle.