An apple is day is being generous for some kids in terms of what they're eating on a daily basis for fruit and vegetable consumption. I am lucky that I grew up enjoying the taste of fruits and veggies so I don't ever remember there being any table-tantrums or whining about getting me to finish my vegetables. Maybe it also had to do with the fact that my parents never pushed food on us so we didn't feel the need to rebel against their vegetable feeding ways. If we weren't hungry then we weren't forced to sit and finish our plates and wait for our food to turn into a plate of cold and congealed mush. For that I am thankful. But now I am beginning to realize that perhaps it had nothing to do with that and maybe there is a different connection between us kids eating our greens and not complaining (apart from my one sister who would have a mental breakdown if green peas even touched her plate).
I've been reading lots of articles lately about the connection between family dinner time and a child's consumption of fruits and vegetables. The recommended number of servings of fruits and veggies for a child ranges from 4-6 servings, yet most kids are not getting near enough healthy foods into their bodies, mostly of the vegetable variety. In fact, about 65% of kids don't get the recommended amount, which just blew my mind! Fruit is easier to get your kid to eat because it is more naturally sweet than vegetables, so kids are more likely to enjoy it. Vegetables can create more of a war-zone during the dinner time meal, which is a zone that parents hate and try to avoid at all costs. They figure the fight is just not worth it and give up before the kid eats anything green.
It ain't easy being green.
Throughout school we read about this quite a bit - basically, if a family all comes together at mealtime, then the children will be more likely to eat their veggies. In fact, kids who eat dinner with their family are more likely to eat up to 1-2 more servings of vegetables, PER MEAL, then those who eat alone or who sit in front of the TV to eat. Up to 2 servings per is a pretty big deal in my books. If you sat down with your kid for both lunch and supper then you can almost get enough of the good stuff in right there. Add in snacks and you're golden for the day in terms of meeting the recommendations!
Kids look up to their parents. They are our role models so seeing mom and dad (or just mom or just dad) sitting down, asking about our day and eating healthy foods themselves, will get us kids realizing that meal time and eating these good foods is important. They are instilling good eating habits onto their kids right from the getgo and teaching healthy behaviours that will follow them into adulthood. If the people who are the most important to us are eating it, then it must be the right thing to do...right?
Even if you just make it a habit to sit down with your kids once to twice a week to share a meal, this can make a big improvement on your kids nutrition. Take the time to slow down and do this with your kids because it is a huge opportunity to teach them about the significance of eating right and also gives you a chance to introduce them to new and exciting foods!
So thanks mom and dad for making us all sit down and eat dinner together every night. You did good.